Who is the prophet abraham?
Abraham (as) was born in the east of Babylon, in an area between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. One report has it that his father was a sincere believer by the name of Taruh. After Taruh passed away, Abraham’s (as) mother married his pagan brother Azer, who became Abraham’s (as) stepdad. Nevertheless, according to another report, Taruh was what Azer was called before he turned pagan. However, in any case, based on a report from Ibn Abbas (ra), Imam Suyuti confirms that Azer was Abraham’s (as) uncle and not his father.
Abraham (as) was a Chaldean. After Prophet Muhammed (saw), he is considered the best of all humankind. He has been honored by Allah as Khalil, a friend, and is therefore also known as Khalil’ur-Rahman.
Abraham (as) received a divine revelation of ten pages. Abu Dharr (ra) narrates from the Prophet (saw) that these pages contained these wisdoms:
“O king, who has lost the trial with kingship and power! I did not send you to the world to pile up gold and silver but to make sure that the oppressed never feel the need to call upon My help…for I never turn back a call from the oppressed, even if he may be a disbeliever!
An intelligent person must divide his time….
A portion of it to pray to and worship the Lord
…another to contemplate on the art and might of the Lord
…another to call himself into account for past deeds and reflect on how he will conduct himself in the future
….and another to make a clean and honest living.” (Abu Nuaym, Hilyah, I, 167; Ibn Esir, alKamil, I, 124)
Abraham (as) is also called Abu’l-Anbiya, the Father of Prophets. That is because Prophet Muhammed (saw) is a descendant of Abraham’s son, Ismail (as), while all the Israelite prophets descend from his other son, Isaac (as).
The Qur’an mentions Abraham (as) exactly 69 times across 25 chapters; and praises him with a number of names:
Awwah, he who prays and appeals a lot,
Halim, he who is soft, kindhearted,
Munib, he who turns to Allah from the bottom of the heart,
Hanif, he who holds tight on the religion of tawhid and keeps away from error and denial,
Qanit, he who serves Allah alone,
Shakir, he who thanks Allah in spades.
Abraham (as) made his living selling clothes and fabric; and took up farming after his migration from the land of Chaldea.
Nimrod was the king of the Chaldeans. During the first years of his rule, he was just and fair. The Chaldeans worshipped idols, as well as the stars. However, after expanding his reign and power, pride took hold of Nimrod and he ordered statues of himself to be made. He then said to his people:
“I, too, am a god. Worship me also!”
It is narrated that Nimrod saw a dream, where a light shining from the sky snuffed out the light of the sun and the moon. Another report says, he once dreamt of a man pulling him off his throne and throwing him to the ground. He woke up in sweat and summoned his soothsayers for an interpretation.
“There will come a new religion”, they said. “And the man who brings that religion will destroy your throne. Take action from now!”
Nimrod thereupon consulted his advisors and ordered every newborn male to be killed. Around a hundred thousand babies were slain.
It was at that point that his mother was about to give birth to Abraham (as). She asked Azer to, “…go to the temple and pray for me! If I have a son, I will bring him to you…and you can personally take him to Nimrod. He will kill the boy and you will gain Nimrod’s favor!”
Nevertheless, this was just a ploy. Not long after Azer left, she gave birth to Abraham (as) and secretly took him (as) to a cave, where he placed him. When Azer returned, she told him it was a stillbirth.
From that point on, whenever Azer left home, she would go to the cave to feed and take care of her son. She would sometimes notice Abraham (as) sucking his fingers. That was because Jibril (as) would make milk and honey flow from his fingertips.
It is said that Abraham (as) spent his early childhood in the cave and began spreading the message of Allah’s oneness, the moment he came out of it as an adolescent.
The Qur’an says:
“And We had certainly given Abraham his sound judgement before, and We were of him Knowing.” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 51)
Rushd is to find the true path, to separate right from wrong, to keep patient on the way of truth and to proceed on it without wavering.
Nevertheless, every time Abraham (as) said, “There is no god but Allah. He is my Lord and the Lord of all things else”, his mother would weep, fearing what Nimrod might do to him if he found out. She would warn Abraham (as) not to say such things but he would assure her:
“Do not fear what Nimrod might do to me. My Lord, who protected me as a child, will also protect me as a grown up”. (Ibn Ilyas, Badayiu’z-Zuhur, p. 84)
My Lord is Allah
Azer was a sculptor, who made his living from making and selling idols. His elder sons would take them to the market and heap praise on the idols to attract buyers. However, Abraham (as) would tie a rope around the idol’s neck and drag it across the market, shouting:
“Is anyone interested in buying an idol that has no power to do itself good or harm?”
He would sometimes dip the idol’s head in the water, talking out loud, “Have some water…you must be thirsty by now!”
Thanks to the rushd Allah had given him, Abraham (as) was able to gain insight into many divine mysteries, without anyone’s tutelage. The Qur’an praises the way in which he recognized Allah and called on his people to do the same at such a young age:
“So when the night covered him with darkness, he saw a star. He said, ‘This is my lord.’ But when it set, he said, ‘I like not those that disappear’. And when he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This is my lord.’ But when it set, he said, ‘Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the people gone astray’. And when he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘This is my lord; this is greater.’ But when it set, he said, “O my people, indeed I am free from what you associate with Allah. Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, as a hanif, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah.’” (Al-An’am, 6: 76-79)
The above verses speak about how Abraham (as) clearly demonstrates to his people the error behind worshipping any being other than Allah. He sees a star and remarks, ‘That’s my Lord? As if!’ First, he suggests how ridiculous it is to accept a star as god. Then once the star sets, he delivers the punchline: ‘I have no love for things that disappear!’ This carries two messages. Firstly, love is central to both divinity and servanthood and secondly, to disappear is not a sign of being the Creator but suggests being created; for things that disappear, cannot be god, or what is the same, God cannot disappear. Thus, it was a grave error to mistake creation for the Creator, insofar God had to be a creative force that, unlike a star, would never set.
This also shows that any intelligent human being can reach the knowledge of Allah’s oneness and existence through contemplation. A number of scholars have therefore said that people are still responsible in believing in the existence and oneness of Allah even if they never get to hear about Islam. They are obliged to believe in that, even though they will not be responsible for the deeds of worship Islam commands.
The Call to Tawhid
Abraham (as) had digested the divine truths and found Allah through an insight given to none other. He began his call by first inviting his stepfather, Azer:
“When he said to his father, ‘O my father, why do you worship that which does not hear, does not see and will not benefit you at all? O my father, indeed there has come to me of knowledge that which has not come to you, so follow me; I will guide you to an even path. My father, do not worship Satan. Indeed, Satan has ever been, to the Most Merciful, disobedient. O my father, indeed I fear that there will touch you a punishment from the Most Merciful so you would be to Satan a companion in hellfire.’” (Maryam, 19: 42-45)
Azer hit back with anger:
“‘Have you no desire for my gods, Abraham? If you do not refrain, I will surely stone you, so stay out of my sight for some time.” (Maryam, 19: 46)
However, Abraham (as) remained soft spoken:
“‘Peace will be upon you. I will ask forgiveness for you of my Lord. Indeed, He is ever gracious to me.’” (Maryam, 19: 47)
He prayed that Azer be forgiven. However, his prayer was not accepted as Azer was an enemy of Allah. The moment Abraham (as) truly understood that, he stopped praying for him. One can only pray for the disbelievers to be guided, not forgiven. The Qur’an declares:
“It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for pagans, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of hellfire. And the request of forgiveness of Abraham for his father was only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became apparent to Abraham that his father was an enemy to Allah, he disassociated himself from him. Indeed, was Abraham compassionate and patient.” (Al-Tawbah, 9: 113-114)
The Qur’an makes repeated mention of Abraham’s (as) struggle against both his stepfather and his people, and the manner in which he invited them to tawhid through reason and logic. The dialogue below is one example:
“And when he said to his father and his people, ‘What are these statues to which you are devoted?’. They said, ‘We found our fathers worship them. ‘He said, ‘You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error’. They said, ‘Have you come to us with truth, or are you of those who jest?’ He said, ‘No, rather, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth who created them, and I, to that, am of those who testify.’” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 52-56)
Abraham (as) Breaks the Idols
The Chaldeans used to gather once a year for a festival. Azer told Abraham (as) to come along but Abraham (as) turned back on the way there, citing his illness as an excuse. Instead of returning home, he headed straight to the temple. It was lined with idols made of silver, bronze and wood. In front of the idols were plates full of food, which the pagans had put there for blessings. The biggest idol, draped in silk and wearing a crown, was placed on a golden throne.
Abraham (as) grabbed an axe and broke every single one of the idols except for the big one. He then hung the axe around its neck and walked out.
Once the sun set, the festival ended and the pagans began returning to the temple to the scene of a great shock. Some of them exclaimed, “Only Abraham would dare do such a thing!” So, they called Abraham (as) and asked whether it was him.
Abraham said, “That big idol over there wanted people only to worship him and so he was angry with the other idols. It is possible that he mowed them all down and then hung the axe around its neck. I say let us ask him for an explanation!”
“Idols do not speak”, they said.
“Then how can these mute things, which cannot even help themselves, protect you? When will you come to your senses?”
The Qur’an explains the incident as follows:
“Then he turned to their gods and said, ‘Do you not eat? What is wrong with you that you do not speak?’ And he struck them a blow with his right hand.” (Al-Saffat, 37: 91-93)
“So he crushed them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it and question. They said, ‘Who has done this to our gods? Indeed, he is of the wrongdoers!’. They said, ‘We heard a young man speak ill of them who is called Abraham’. They said, ‘Then bring him before the eyes of the people that they may testify’. They said, ‘Have you done this to our gods, Abraham?’ He said, ‘Rather, this, the largest of them, did it, so ask it, if it should be able to speak’. So they returned to blaming themselves and said to each other, ‘Indeed, you are the wrongdoers!’ Then they back flipped and said, ‘You already know that these do not speak!’ He said, ‘Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? Woe to you and to what you worship instead of Allah! Will you not use reason?’” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 58-67)
However, the pagans would not come to their senses. They were only certain Abraham (as) was the culprit. They could not take what had happened; and instead of facing up to their foolishness and turning to Allah, decided to burn Abraham (as) alive:
“They said, ‘Burn him and support your gods, if you are to act!’” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 68)
The Trial by Fire
The pagans quickly delivered the news to Nimrod, who called Abraham (as) to his palace.
It was custom to prostrate to Nimrod when entering his court. However, Abraham (as) just walked straight up. An infuriated and at the same time curious Nimrod asked him why.
“I only prostrate to He who has created both you and I”, he said.
“Who is your Lord?” Nimrod asked.
“My Lord -and yours- is Allah, who gives and takes life.”
“I”, said Nimrod, “give and take life”. He then summoned two prisoners from the dungeon. He killed one and set the other free. He then turned to Abraham (as) and remarked, “See…I can do that, too!”
Little did Nimrod know that to give life was to give spirit and to kill someone was to remove it. Abraham (as) then offered a challenge:
“My Lord rises the sun from the east. Make it rise from the west, if you can!”
The Qur’an recounts the exchange:
“Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord merely because Allah had given him kingship? When Abraham said, ‘My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death,’ he said, ‘I give life and cause death.’ Abraham said, ‘Indeed, Allah brings up the sun from the east, so bring it up from the west.’ So the disbeliever was overwhelmed, and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 258)
The verse gives us a hint of the level of Nimrod’s aggression and his declaration of war on the Almighty. Imam Baydawi says that Nimrod was the first man to claim he was god. Instead of thanking the Lord for the wealth and kingdom he was given, he had opted for ingratitude and denial.
There are two reports regarding the backstory of Abraham’s (as) meeting with Nimrod.
Abraham (as) was imprisoned after he demolished the idols; and was brought to Nimrod just before he was going to be thrown into the fire.
A famine had gripped the land of Chaldea for a year and Nimrod was handing out food to people. Before he would give the food, he would ask a person, “Who is your lord?” and they would be compelled to say ‘Nimrod’. However, when it was Abraham’s (as) turn, he said, “My Lord is He who gives life and takes it away!”
Nimrod became angry and called on his council to advise him of a proper punishment. A wicked man by the name of Hanun said:
“Let’s burn him!”
Nimrod accepted the proposal and ordered a grand fire to be lit. People carried wood for it for a month. The ignorant public enthusiastically volunteered to carry the wood, thinking, ‘…the man has offended our idols!’ The fire was lit. It was a like mountain of flames that reached the skies. Birds could not even fly near it from the heat.
The preparations were over and people had gathered around fire. Abraham (as) was brought shackled and handcuffed. However, despite facing death, the great prophet was resigned. There was not a speck of fear or doubt in his heart.
For a bit, Nimrod and his advisors discussed what the best way to throw him into the fire would be. They decided to use a catapult.
The angels on earth and in the heavens implored:
“Oh Lord…Abraham is going to burn. He is a prophet who does not forget you for even a second. Please grant us permission to help him…”
One angel came to Abraham (as) said, “All winds are under my command. Say the word and I will blow the flames away!”
Another one came and said, “All waters are under my command. Say the word and I will put out the fire in a second!”
Another said, “The soil is under my command. Say the word and I will sink the fire to the ground”.
However, Abraham (as) said to them all:
“Do not come in between a friend and a friend! I am happy with whatever my Lord wills! If He saves me, it is from His grace. If he burns me, it is because of my sins. I hope I will keep patient!”
When placed on the catapult, he prayed:
“Allah is enough for us…and what a Trustee He is!”
Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) narrates that Abraham (as) made that prayer midair, as he was being shot into the fire.
The Prophet (saw) and his companions repeated the same prayer, when they were told after the Battle of Uhud that “…the pagan army has regathered and are out to finish you off!” (Bukhai, Tafsir, 3/13)
Moments before being thrown, Jibril (as) came down and asked Abraham (as) if he had a wish.
“Yes”, he said, “…but not from you!”
“Why don’t you ask Allah to save you?” an astonished Jibril (as) asked. Abraham (as) replied:
“He knows my situation. With whose command does the fire burn? And who is the One who burns?”
That response is the inspiration behind the poem, “Once one understands the score, questions fly out the door…”
The Almighty was pleased with Abraham (as) bypassing even the angels and turning entirely to Him. He praises Abraham (as) as:
“And Abraham, who was loyal.” (Al-Najm, 53: 37)
“When his Lord said to him, ‘Submit’, he said ‘I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds.’” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 131)
The Fire Turns into a Garden
Due to Abraham’s (as) supreme submission, before he ever landed in the fire, Allah commanded:
“O fire, be cool and peaceful for Abraham!” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 69)
With that order, Abraham (as) landed into what had now become a garden roses. A sweet spring also began to burst near him. It is also narrated that a shirt was sent from paradise, which Abraham (as) wore. The shirt was later passed onto Isaac (as), and from him to Jacob (as) and Joseph (as). This is the same shirt that Joseph (as) sent back to his father Jacob (as) to cure his eyesight.
It is reported that once Allah commanded the flames to be cool and calm, for a while, every single fire burning on earth turned cool.
Nimrod could not believe what he just saw. He exclaimed:
“How great a Lord you have Abraham! How great is His power to save you from harm! You have a glorious Lord…and I will sacrifice four thousand cattle for Him!”
Abraham (as) said, “Your sacrifices will mean nothing unless you turn back from your ways!”
“I will make those sacrifices”, Nimrod said. “But I cannot abandon my kingdom and wealth!”
Abraham (as), who survived the fire without even a blister, turned to the onlookers and said:
“You have only taken, other than Allah, idols as a bond of affection among you in worldly life. Then on the Day of Resurrection you will deny one another and curse one another, and your refuge will be the Fire, and you will not have any helpers.” (Al-Ankabut, 29: 25)
Abraham’s (as) Migration
After the incident, Allah (jj) ordered Abraham (as) and his followers to leave the land, so they could freely live their religion and avoid the punishment that would befall Nimrod and the Chaldeans. They obeyed the command without question. The Almighty praises their submission:
“There has already been for you an excellent example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you, animosity and hatred forever, until you believe in Allah alone.’” (Al-Mumtahinah, 60: 4)
Thus, Allah the Almighty delivered His Khalil and the believers to safer ground. The Qur’an further says:
“And Lot believed him. Abraham said, ‘Indeed, I will emigrate to my Lord. Indeed, He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Al-Ankabut, 29: 26)
“And We delivered him and Lot to the land which We had blessed for the worlds.” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 71)
Lot (as) was Abraham’s (as) nephew. Considering Lot (as) is a prophet, it is unthinkable for him to have been a disbeliever at any stage in his life. Thus, the above verse should be taken as to mean Lot (as) was the first person to confirm the truth of Abraham’s (as) call.
Abraham (as) first went to Babylon and from there, to the town of Harran south of Urfa, accompanied by the believers including Lot (as) and his cousin, Sarah.
In line with Allah’s command, Abraham (as) married Sarah, a righteous and upright woman, devoted to her husband.
Abraham (as) and Sarah then continued onto Damascus and Egypt. As for Lot (as), he went as prophet to the land of Sodom and Gomorrah. That is where the Dead Sea is today and the Qur’an refers to it as the land that was ‘turned upside down’ (mutafike), in reference to what it would later become.
Egypt was under the rule of a pharaoh and his family. They were conceited and oppressive. Whenever a foreign and beautiful woman crossed the border, the Pharaoh would be informed. If she was married, her husband would be killed. However, if she was accompanied by his brother, they would ask him for her. When Sarah crossed the border with her husband, the news quickly reached the palace.
Abraham (as) was questioned and he told them that Sarah is his sister; though what he meant was she was his sister in religion. So, they left Abraham (as) alone but took Sarah to the palace. A hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari reports:
“Once Sarah entered the palace, she took ablution and stood for prayer. Afterwards, she pleaded, ‘My Lord…if I am a chaste woman, who has truly believed in You and your prophet, protect me from the evils of this pagan!” (Al-Bukhari, Buyu’, 100)
The Pharaoh did try to make a move on Sarah. However, he suddenly lost his breath and became paralyzed. Out of fear, he set Sarah free and gave her Hagar as a maid and helper. When asked by his advisors as to why he did that, he said:
“This woman is a witch! If she stayed with me for a bit longer, I would have been dead. I gave her Hagar to protect myself from her spell!”
The Almighty advises us to seek His help through prayer, patience and the good deeds we have done in the past:
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 153)
Sarah was saved by exactly doing that.
The Pharaoh’s daughter, Hurya, had very much liked Sarah and gave her some jewelry as present. However, Sarah returned them after Abraham (as) saw them and said:
“Take them back…we do not need them”. Hurya told his father about it, who became astonished and remarked:
“They surely must be people of honor, with a clean and noble lineage!”
Abraham (as), accompanied by Sarah and Hagar, soon left Egypt and arrived in Palestine. They stopped over at a quiet and desolate place called Sab. Abraham (as) dug up a well and extracted some clean water. Not long after, they ran out of food, so Abraham (as) set out for the nearest town. However, he stopped on the way and decided to return as he had no money. However, thinking Sarah and Hagar might despair, he returned carrying a sack filled with sand and stones. He was exhausted. He dropped the sack and fell asleep.
Sarah asked Hagar to “Open the sack!” And she did.
However, the sand and stones had turned into wheat. The pair quickly grinded the grains and made bread out of the flour. Abraham (as) woke up to a surprise and thanked his Lord.
With Allah’s grace, Sab soon became a place thriving with natural resources; and those passing by began settling there for good. Nevertheless, after a while, they became ingrate to the point of even banning Abraham (as) from accessing the well he himself had dug up. Abraham (as) was hurt and as a result, the well dried up. Seeing that, the settlers regretted what they had done and begged Abraham (as) to forgive them and pray to the Almighty on their behalf. Abraham (as) was a very kindhearted prophet. He accepted their apologies and prayed to the Lord. In no time, the waters once again began to burst.
The Destruction of Nimrod and His People
After Abraham (as) migrated to Babylon, Nimrod and the Chaldeans, who were too overtaken by pride and conceit to submit to Allah, were struck by a swarm of mosquitos. They sucked the lifeblood out of the pagans, who met their end withered and consumed. One mosquito flew right through Nimrod’s nose into his brain. The proud Nimrod would have his head beaten with a mallet just to relieve the ache. Eventually, a powerful strike of the mallet ended up smashing his skull into pieces.
The Qur’an says:
“And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers.” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 70)
To serve as a lesson for those to come, Nimrod and his cohorts, intoxicated by their power, perished in the attack of the smallest of all insects.
Birds Come to Life
Abraham (as) prayed to Allah to see, with his own two eyes, “…how Your infinite power works in bringing the dead back to life”.
The Qur’an recounts the incident:
“And when Abraham said, ‘My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead.’ Allah said, ‘Have you not believed?’ He said, ‘Yes, but I ask only that my heart may be satisfied.’ Allah said, ‘Take four birds and commit them to yourself. Then after slaughtering them put on each hill a portion of them; then call them: they will come flying to you in haste. And know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 260)
Abraham (as) was curious to see how a dead being would come back to life and asked the Almighty to show him. However, while Allah showed him how the process physically takes place, He did not disclose the nature of rebirth. That is because the human mind lacks the capacity to understand the true nature of being revived after death. As the Qur’an mentions elsewhere, examples of the kind shown to prophets are considered miracles. What is important is to have complete belief in the fact that when the time comes, Allah will certainly revive all beings, especially humans, and call them into account.
Yet, while it is the infinitely powerful God who kills and revives as He wills, He may sometime complete the action through human beings. The case of Abraham (as) is an example.
“My Lord gives life and takes it away” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 258). This is Abraham (as) talking. When he says ‘My Lord’, he means, ‘My Lord who can give and take away life’. Thus, when he asks Allah to show him how He brings the dead back to life, he implies, ‘Yes, I certainly know You can bring the dead alive but I am curious as to whether Your action can take place through me as a medium’. When Allah asks, ‘Is it because you do not fully believe?’, Abraham replies, ‘I certainly and fully believe You can put life back in the dead whenever You wish…but I only ask for a peace of mind, for my heart to proceed from faith to certitude by witnessing the act with my very own eyes’. So, all Abraham (as) wanted was a heart free of all deficiencies and in doing so, reach the spiritual state of hullah, which is the level of friendship based on love deep from within the heart; and thereby remain the khalil, the friend of Allah, for eternity.
The first duty of the human mind is to believe in Allah (jj). However, the mind always looks for a source, a beginning point, a basis. It is therefore necessary to submit the mind to the glory of the Almighty and take hold of the unshakable wisdom it holds out.
There are few other reports surrounding Abraham’s (as) wish to see how Allah revives the dead. Said ibn Jubayr narrates that once Allah declared Abraham (as) His beloved friend –khalil-, Jibril (as) brought the news. Abraham (as) asked, “What is the sign of that?”
Jibril (as) replied, “The Almighty will accept your prayers and through them, will bring the dead back to life.”
It was at that moment he asked, “My Lord…show me how You revive the dead!”
Tafsir-i Hazin also provides the following:
Abraham (as) had seen a carcass by the side of river, being dragged in and out of the waters by the waves, with both land and sea animals feeding off from it. Its flesh had been ripped apart and its bones were visible. For a split second, he reflected on how these scattered lumps of flesh and bone would be regathered for life after death. It was then that the above incident took place.
Ebussuud Effendi offers the information below:
Nimrod had asked Abraham (as) whether he had seen, with his own eyes, how the spirit is instated and withdrawn in the process of life and death. Abraham (as) remained silent; and the incident took place shortly afterward.
As instructed by Allah, Abraham (as) took a peacock, a crow, a pigeon and a rooster. He slaughtered them all and mixed their parts together. He divided that mixture into four and placed each chunk on a separate hilltop. He then called each of them. They all flew back to him.
Similarly, Ubayy ibn Khalaf, who rejected life after death, once brought a decayed bone to the Prophet (as); and after crumbling it to dust in his hands, said, “Do you really believe that Allah will bring these decayed bones to life?”
“Yes”, replied the Prophet (as). “Allah will bring you back to life and put you in hell!” (Al-Qurtubi, al-Jami, XV, 58; al-Wahidi, p. 379)
Allah the Almighty revealed the following:
“Does man not consider that We created him from a mere drop of sperm; then at once he is a clear adversary? And he presents for Us an example and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?’ Say, ‘He will give them life who produced them the first time; and He is, of all creation, Knowing.’” (Ya Sin, 36: 77-79)
Qadi Baydawi suggests there is also good reason as to why those four species of birds were chosen:
The peacock was chosen to signal the need to reduce love for the dazzle and pleasures of the world and to defeat the ego’s lust. To bridle anger, which leads to aggression and rage, the rooster was chosen; as it is an animal that acts mostly with that instinct. The crow was taken as a symbol of jealousy and ignominy and to illustrate the need to rid oneself of these impulses. The pigeon was sacrificed to show the need to quell worldly ambition. Thus, the story teaches us that a person wishing for eternal revival must first train himself to curb the desires of his ego and channel them to what is good and what is in the line with the pleasure of Allah.
Abraham’s (as) Marriage to Hagar
Abraham (as) and Sarah were getting old but had no kids. Sarah decided to set Hagar free and have her married to Abraham (as). From that marriage, Ismail (as) was born and the Mohammedan Light passed onto him. Sarah had previously thought the she would be the one to pass on that light. So, she became upset and asked Abraham (as) to take Hagar away. With the command of Allah, Abraham (as) took Hagar and their son, Ismail (as) to the barren and remote land of Mecca. Jibril (as) led the way as their guide. When they reached Mecca, he said:
“This is the place where you will settle your family!”
Abraham (as) said, “But this land is not good for farming or herding”.
“Certainly not”, said Jibril (as). “But it is here that the Unlettered Prophet will be born from your son’s lineage…and the highest word (kalimatu’-l-ulya) will be completed through him!” (Ibn Sad, 38: I, 164)
Bukhari mentions the following, which Ibn Abbas (as) narrates from the Prophet (saw):
“Abraham (as) took our mother Hagar and Ismail (as), who still being breastfed at the time, to Mecca. He left both of them under a tree, beneath of which the zamzam water would later spring…and placed a basket of dates and a pitcher full of water by their side. He then turned back. As he was walking away, Hagar called out to him:
‘Did Allah command you to leave us here?’
‘Yes’, responded Abraham (as).
‘Then Allah will protect us. He will not let us to go to waste’, Hagar said with confidence.
Once Hagar and Ismail (as) were no longer in sight, Abraham (as) raised his hands and prayed:
“Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.” (Ibrahim, 14: 37) (Al-Bukhari, Anbiya, 9)
“And when Abraham said, ‘My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits, whoever of them believes in Allah and the Last Day.’ Allah said, ‘And whoever disbelieves, I will grant him enjoyment for a little; then I will force him to the punishment of the Fire, and wretched is the destination.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 126)
The Almighty also provides for disbelievers in this life and gives them every opportunity to make the most of what the world has to offer. Being rich therefore does not depend on being religious. That is something given to both non-Muslims and Muslims alike. However, wealth and power are not necessarily good. It all depends on what they result in. If they become means for better service to the Lord, they are reasons for happiness in both worlds. Yet, if they lead one astray, they lay waste to eternity and bring, not pleasure, but misery.
Allah (jj) granted Abraham’s wish. It is because of that prayer that Muslims, who offer pilgrimage, feel a deep love for Mecca and find peace in visiting it. After that prayer, the barren Mecca also turned into a land fertile with dates and a variety of other fruits.
However, perhaps most famously, Abraham’s (as) prayer burst forth the zamzam water.
The water Abraham (as) had left in the pitcher had quickly run out. In panic and under scorching heat, Hagar ran back and forth between the hills Safa and Marwa in search of water. The distance between each hill is roughly 400 meters. As she kept running, she had one eye out for the little Ismail (as). There was not a bird in the sky, let alone a human being anywhere near. There was no sign of life. However, as she was on the Marwa Hill, she heard a voice:
“Stop and listen”, it said. It was the voice of Jibril (as). Hagar look towards where the voice was coming from. Jibril (as) continued:
“You have been entrusted with He, who has power over everything. Do not fear you will perish! Over there is the spot for the House of Allah. That kid and his father will build it. Allah (jj) will not forsake the builders of His house!”
Hagar then ran back to her son to see a spring of water bursting beneath his foot. She elatedly thanked Allah. Fearing the water would flow for only a bit, she dug up the sand and made a pool to collect it. However, it just kept gushing out. She then had to say, ‘zam, zam’, which means ‘stop, stop’.
The Prophet (saw) says:
“May Allah have mercy on Ismail’s mother, Hagar. If she had left the zamzam alone and not enclosed it, it would certainly have become a fountain that flowed nonstop”. (Al-Bukhari, Anbiya, 9)
This water, which sprung forth from nothing other than submission and reliance on the Lord, will continue to offer healing to believers until the end of time.
The depth of Abraham and Hagar’s submission to the Lord resulted in an enormous blessing. Another aspect of this blessing is that at each pilgrimage, believers replicate our mother Hagar’s run between the hills Safa and Marwah. The practice is a necessary part of both hajj and umrah, as a tribute to Hagar’s toil.
Days followed one another, as the mother and her son began their new lives in a parched and barren land. One day, men from the tribe of Jurhum passed by and noticed a bird hover above that area. They took it as a sign of life and sent two men to inspect. The men returned with the news that there was fresh water. The tribe then asked Hagar for permission to settle.
She said, “Yes…only on the condition you do not stake claim to the well”. The Jurhumites agreed and thus became the first tribe to settle in Mecca.
The Trial of Sacrifice
While journeying from Babylon to Damascus, Abraham (as) had prayed:
“I will go to my Lord; He will guide me. My Lord, grant me a child from among the righteous.” (Al-Saffat, 37: 99-100)
This indicates that, at bottom, this was a spiritual journey from the inner world to the highest and to the greatest of ‘friends’. The verses that follow speak about how Abraham (as) was given the news of the birth of Ismail (as) and how he was later tested by being asked to sacrifice him:
“So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy. And when he reached the age of exertion, he said, ‘My son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you, so see what you think.’ He said, ‘My father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast’. And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, ‘O Abraham, you have fulfilled the vision’ Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. This was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice. And We left for him favorable mention among later generations. Peace upon Abraham. Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.” (Al-Saffat, 37: 101-111)
After leaving Hagar and Ismail, Abraham (as) returned to Sarah but he would visit them from time to time. He was again in Mecca one day when he had a dream where, as indicated by the verse, he was putting Ismail (as) to the knife. Upon waking up, Abraham (as) for a moment doubted whether the devil was simply playing mind games. However, he saw the same dream for the next three days, which coincided with the days of tawriyah, arafah and the first day of eid.
According to another report, Abraham (as) had made a promise that if the Lord gave him a son, he would sacrifice him. That was the reason why he was tested.
When Abraham (as) realized that it was a divine command, he told Hagar to give Ismail (as) a bath and put some nice perfumes on him. He said he was taking his son to a ‘friend’, and asked Ismail (as) to bring a rope and a knife.
He said, “Son, I am going to offer a sacrifice for the sake of Allah (jj)”.
The father and son started walking towards Mount Arafat, where pilgrims today stand for waqfah. Satan then appeared to Hagar in the form of a human being and asked:
“Do you know where Abraham is taking your son?”
“To a friend”, she said.
“No!”, he retorted. “He is going to cut his throat!”
Hagar responded, “It can’t be. He loves his son too much!”
“Well”, said Satan, “it is apparently an order of Allah”.
“If that is the case, it must be a good thing. We have full trust in Allah”, replied Hagar.
After failing to trick Hagar, Satan immediately went to Ismail (as).
“Have you any idea where your father is taking you?” he asked.
“To visit a friend”, said Ismail (as).
“You have got it wrong”, said Satan. “He is going to slit your throat. He thinks it is a command from Allah”.
“Well, if that is the case, we will wholeheartedly follow that order”, said Ismail (as), before pelting Satan with stones and telling him to go away.
In a last ditch attempt, Satan went to Abraham (as).
“Where do you think you are taking your son, old man? The devil has played games with you. That dream cannot be from Allah!”
“No”, said Abraham (as). “You are the devil and you are trying to trick us right now. Get away from us!” He then threw seven stones each at the devil in three different places. That is how stoning the devil during pilgrimage began. Believers have been ordered to replicate those actions in remembrance of their trust and submission to the Almighty.
As Abraham (as) continued walking with his son from Mina to Arafat, the angels in the sky became anxious. They said to one another:
“Subhanallah…one prophet is taking another for sacrifice!”
Abraham (as) eventually turned to Ismail (as) and said, “Son…I have been commanded in a dream to sacrifice you!”
“Did Allah give you that order, dad?” asked Ismail (as).
“Yes”, Abraham (as) replied.
“Do what you have been told, dad. Allah willing, you will see just how patient I am”, Ismail (as) assured him. After seeing his father breathe a sigh of relief, he continued:
“My dear father! You remained patient when Nimrod threw you in the fire. Allah (jj) liked your attitude. I, too, am resigned to what is to come. I will be separated from you and the world but I will return to my Lord and enter paradise. I am only worried about you. You are never going to be able get over the pain of having sacrificed your son with your own two hands. I only wished you had told me earlier so I could have said farewell to my mother!”
“I was worried she might disapprove”, explained Abraham (as).
One report says Ismail (as) was only seven years old at the time. According to another, he was thirteen.
It is narrated that:
“When Abraham (as) was shown the secrets of the heavens and earth, he saw someone in rebellion against Allah. He asked Allah to destroy him; and he was destroyed. Abraham (as) then saw another rebel and prayed that he be destroyed, too. His prayer was, again, accepted. He then saw another, and a few more and made similar requests for them. Each prayer was accepted.
The Almighty thereupon said to him, ‘You are a servant whose prayers are accepted. Do not pray for the destruction of my servants. Consider three things:
- My servant may repent for his sins and I will accept it.
- There may come devout sons and daughters from his lineage.
- Or I may still forgive my servant on the day of judgment”.
It is said that the one of the reasons why Abraham (as) was asked to sacrifice his son was to increase his compassion for sinners.
There is also another report. As alluded to by the verse:
“And thus did We show Abraham the realm of the heavens and the earth that he would be among the certain in faith.” (Al-An’am, 6: 75), Abraham (as) would be raised to the heavens each night. On one of those nights, he saw a sinner, engaging in illicit activity, and said:
“My Lord. This person eats what You give him, walks on Your earth…but still does not do what You command. Destroy him!” His prayer was accepted. He then saw another sinner, who was destroyed, after he made the same prayer. Allah then said:
‘Stop praying for the destruction of my servants! Give them time and act with discretion. For I see what all of them do but I still do not destroy them!”
Abraham (as) saw the dream when he came back down.
The time had come. Abraham (as) grabbed the knife and prayed:
“My Lord! This is my son. He is the fruit of my heart and the most beloved of all…” But a voice said:
“Do you remember the night when you wished for the destruction of my servants one after another? Don’t you know that I am as compassionate towards My servants as you are to your son? That night, you asked Me to destroy them. Now, I want you to slaughter your son!” (Ramazanoglu M. Sami, Ibrahim -aleyhisselam-, p. 44-46)
Ismail (as) then looked to his father and said, “Dad…I have a few requests.
- Tie my hands and feet so I do not struggle and do something wrong in the heat of pain.
- Keep your clothes out of the way, so that my blood does not stain them.
- Make sure your knife is sharp. It will help me die quicker and make your job easier.
- When you pull out the knife, do not look at my face. Your fatherly love might make you show mercy and delay executing Allah’s command.
- Take my shirt to my mum, so she can console herself. Tell her, ‘Your son has gone to Allah as an intercessor’.
Abraham (as) listened with tears rolling down his cheeks. He then began to weep.
“My dearest”, he said. “You have been a great aide in helping me execute Allah’s command!” He then raised his hands and prayed:
“My Lord! Give me patience and the power to go through with this!”
Ismail (as) then said, “Look, dad, the gates of heaven have just opened and the angels are prostrating to Allah, praying, ‘Our Lord…one prophet is about to slit the throat of another just for Your sake…Have mercy on them!”
After a pause, he added:
“Love is not to delay the command. Go on, dad, do what you have been told!”
Abraham (as) laid Ismail (as) down and said, “So long, my son, until the final day. We will see each other then.”
He then placed the knife on his son’s throat. At that point, the Almighty told Jibril (as) to “…turn the knife on its blunt side!” In a flash, Jibril (as) descended from the highest heaven and flipped the knife around. Try as he may, the knife just would not cut.
The Almighty then declared:
“Abraham (as) has certainly been true to his word!”
With the command of Allah, Jibril (as) returned this time with a ram from heaven, shouting:
Abraham (as) echoed the words with:
Ismail (as) added:
And so did the tashriq takbir, which we today recite from the eve of eid until the fourth day, came to be.
The father and son returned home with feelings of gratitude. Hagar gave Ismail (as) the warmest of all hugs and Abraham (as) returned to Sarah.
Abraham (as) had now been tested with his life by being thrown in the fire and with his son with the command to sacrifice him. He had passed both tests through sheer trust and submission. Now, he was about to be tested with his wealth. It is reported that he owned herds of around 12,000 livestock with a very protective dog guarding them. To scorn people who were infatuated with the riches of the word, Abraham (as) had put a golden collar around the dog’s neck.
One day, Jibril (as) arrived in the guise of a stranger and asked, “Who owns this flock?”
“My Lord does”, replied Abraham (as). “I am only minding them!”
“Would you sell them to me?” asked Jibril (as).
“If you say the name of my Lord once, I will give you a third of them. Say it three times and you can have them all”, he said.
Jibril (as) then said:
“Go on, take them all”, Abraham (as) told him.
“But I cannot”, Jibril (as) responded. “I am an angel!”
“If you are an angel”, said Abraham (as), “I happen to be a khalil. I cannot possibly take back what I have given!”
With no way out, Abraham (as) eventually decided to sell the flock and bought a vast land with the money. He then donated the land for the needs of Muslims and in doing so founded the tradition of waqf.
Abraham (as) had passed another test and proven he was a ‘true friend’ by donating his entire wealth for the sake of Allah in the blink of an eye. The Qur’an praises him:
“And mention when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 124)
The Birth of Isaac (as)
Because Abraham (as) was true to his word in being prepared to sacrifice his own son, the Almighty gifted him another, despite his old age. The Qur’an says:
“And We gave him good tidings of Isaac, a prophet from among the righteous. And We blessed him and Isaac. But among their descendants are doers of good and those clearly unjust to themselves.” (Al-Saffat, 37: 112-113)
At the time, Abraham (as) was 120 years old, while Sarah was 90 or 99.
Ibn Abbas (ra) reports that a group of angels personally delivered the news of the baby, before proceeding to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
The angels had come to the home of Abraham (as) as guests in human form. Abraham (as) had a feast of roasted calf prepared for them. However, after seeing none of them touch the meat, he quickly realised they were angels. He first felt a little apprehensive.
“Is there something Allah is angry with?” he thought. “Have they come to destroy my people?” Just to make sure they indeed were angels, he asked them once again.
“Will you not eat?”
“We do not eat for free”, they said.
Abraham (as) then said bismillah and elhamdulillah.
“You are a true friend of Allah”, they said. “Do not fear! We are on our way to destroy the tribe of Lot (as).”
So the reason of their visit had become clear.
Once Abraham’s (as) fears were dispelled, the angels gave him the glad tidings of Isaac (as) and his son to come, Jacob (as).
Sarah was eavesdropping on the conversation from behind the curtain. After hearing the news of a son, she placed her hands on her face and reacted with astonishment, given she was now an elderly woman.
“Are you amazed at the power and command of Allah?” the angels asked.
While Abraham (as) was happy to hear the news, he was also sad about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as he had not yet been told that the believers would be spared. He wanted to pray that Allah would not annihilate the town. However, the angels told him it would be of no benefit and that only the disbelieving sinners would perish. Abraham (as) felt another relief.
The Qur’an recount the incident:
“And certainly did Our messengers come to Abraham with good tidings; they said, ‘Peace.’ He said, ‘Peace,’ and did not delay in bringing them a roasted calf.” (Hud, 11: 69)
Ibn Abbas relays from the Prophet (saw) that the three angels were the archangels were Jibril, Mikail and Israfil.
“But when he saw their hands not reaching for it, he distrusted them and felt apprehensive. They said, ‘Fear not! We have been sent to the people of Lot.’ And his wife was standing, and she smiled, when We gave her good tidings of Isaac and after Isaac, Jacob. She said, ‘Woe to me! Will I give birth while I am an old woman and this, my husband, is an old man? This is an amazing thing!’ They said, ‘Are you amazed at the decree of Allah? May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house. Indeed, He is Praiseworthy and Honorable’. And when the fright had left Abraham and the good tidings had reached him, he began to argue with Us concerning the people of Lot.” (Hud, 11: 70-74)
“Abraham was indeed forbearing, tenderhearted and completely devoted to the Lord.” (Hud, 11: 75)
The above verse lists three important qualities of Abraham (as).
Hilm is to be extremely patient and delay, even abstain, from taking revenge on wrongdoers.
Awwah is to worry on behalf of sinners about the outcome that awaits them.
Munib is to turn and return to Allah from the heart. In all his dealings, Abraham (as) would turn to the Almighty and rest all his hope and trust in Him.
Abraham’s (as) heart had filled with mercy after receiving the divine warning not to be haste in wishing for the destruction of sinners. For that reason, he was now praying to Allah to lift the punishment off Sodom and Gomorrah. However, those people had turned their backs on divine mercy so completely that punishment had now become unavoidable. They had in fact wished for divine wrath to come, and had sped up the process by continuing to revel in sin. They were even telling ‘clean people’ to get out of their town. So, the angels told him:
“Give up this plea, Abraham. The command of your Lord has come, and there will reach them a punishment that cannot be repelled.” (Hud, 11: 76)
Due to its importance, chapter al-Dhariyat recounts the same dialogue in a different choice of words.
Another great quality of Abraham (as) was that he was a man of great hospitality. He would feed anyone who came past, regardless of who he was. He is therefore also known as Abu’l-Adyaf, the father of guests. (Ibn Sad, 38: Tabaqat, I, 47)
He was so generous and kind that on days when he received no guests, he would go out on the streets to find people to bring back home.
Hospitality is a quality of the prophets. Even though moderation is advised in eating and drinking, there is no such thing as waste when it comes to feeding guests. However, it is also necessary that the offerings are made not for any worldly gain but only for the sake of Allah (jj).
Abraham (as) Visits Ismail (as)
Ismail (as) had married a Jurhumite woman. He was much loved and respected by the people. He learnt Arabic from them. His mother, Hagar passed away at the age of 99. She was buried in the Hijr area near the Ka’bah.
Our Prophet (saw) explains:
“After Ismail (as) married, Abraham (as) paid him a visit. Ismail (as) was not at home, so he asked about his whereabouts:
‘He has gone to earn bread for us’, said his wife. Abraham (as) then asked, ‘How are you getting by?’
She said, ‘We are in fierce poverty. Our situation is very bad’.
He said, ‘When your husband returns, give him my greetings and tell him to replace his threshold!’
Ismail (as) returned and quickly realised from the beautiful smell in the air that his father had come and gone.
‘Has anyone come over in my absence?’ he nonetheless asked.
‘Yes, an old man. He inquired about you and asked how we were getting by. I told him we are in need’, his wife said.
‘Did he say anything else?’ asked Ismail (as).
‘He sent his greetings and advised you to replace your threshold.’
Ismail (as) knew exactly what that meant.
‘That old man is my father’, he said. ‘He has told me to divorce you. You may now return to your family!’. He then left home and married another Jurhumite woman not long after.
After a while, Abraham (as) returned and once again, Ismail (as) was not home. He asked his new wife where he was.
‘He has gone to earn a bread for us’, she said.
‘Are you getting by?’ he asked.
‘Thank Allah’, she said. ‘We are in bliss and abundance’.
‘What do you have to eat and drink?’ Abraham (as) inquired.
‘Meat and water’, she replied. Abraham (as) then prayed, ‘My Lord…make their meat and water sacred…and shower them in abundance!”
He then added, ‘Give my greetings to your husband and tell him to take good care of his threshold!’
When Ismail (as) returned, he again knew that his father had come and gone. He asked his wife, ‘Did anyone come while I was away?’
‘Yes’, she said. ‘An elderly man with a comforting appearance. He asked about you and I told him that you had gone to earn a crust. He asked how we were doing and I said we were doing great.’
‘Did he give any advice?’ Ismail (as) asked.
‘Yes, he sent you his greetings and advised you to take good care of your threshold!’
‘That elderly man is my dad’, Ismail (as) said, ‘…and you are the threshold of our lovely home. My dad has told me to keep you happy and take good care of you.’” (Al-Bukhari, Anbiya, 9)
This incident makes it clear that being thankful increases one’s lot. Complaining, which is sign of being ungrateful, causes it to decrease and leads to deprivation.
The Construction of the Ka’bah
Years later, Abraham (as) returned to Mecca and told his son, Ismail (as), “My Lord has given me an order. I am going to build a house…and you will help me!”
Ismail (as), as well as Jibril (as), carried the stones, while Abraham (as) put up the walls. The marble which can be seen today at Maqam Ibrahim –and which bears Abraham’s (as) footprint- served as an elevator.
The Qur’an says:
“And when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and with him Ismail, saying, ‘Our Lord, accept this from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 127)
It has been narrated that after Adam (as) and Eve were removed from paradise, they reunited at Arafat and together walked west towards where the Ka’bah stands today. As a show of thanks, Adam (as) wanted to worship the Lord and asked Him to send him the pillar made of light, which he used to circumambulate in paradise. His wish was granted, and he walked around it to worship the Lord. The pillar was all but lost around the time of Seth (as), except for a piece of it that had now turned black. Seth (as) constructed a rectangular building in its place and positioned the black stone in one of its corners. This is stone known today as Hajaru’l-Aswad, which means the Black Stone. Following the Great Flood, the building remained buried under sand, until Abraham (as) dug up its foundations with the help of his son, Ismail (as) and built the structure known today as the Ka’bah. That is what the Qur’an means when it says, ‘and he raised the foundations of the House’.
As a sign for people to start circumabulating the Ka’bah, Abraham (as) placed the Black Stone on its corner. It is said that the stone came out paradise whiter than snow but became darkened from people’s sins. (Ibn Hanbal, I, 307)
Soots from fires both before and after the time of the Prophet (saw) have also made the stone darker.
After the Ka’bah was rebuilt, both Abraham (as) and Ismail (as) prayed:
“Our Lord, and make us Muslims in submission to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation in submission to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 128-129)
Regarding the prayer mentioned in the verse, the Prophet (saw) has said:
“I am the prayer of my father Abraham, the good news of my brother Jesus and the dream of my mother Aminah.” (Ahmad ibn Hanbal, V, 262; Hakim, al-Mustadrak, II, 453)
The noble lineage of our Prophet (as) runs as follows:
The Prophet Muhammed (saw)
Abdulmuttalib (also called Shaybat al-Hamd)
Abd-i Manaf (his real name was Mughirah)
Qusayy (also known as Zayd)
Our Prophet’s (saw) honourable lineage can be counted all the way up to Adnan. Adnan is from the line of Ismail (as), though the number of years that separates the two is not known for certain.
The number of prophets, including the Light of Being, Muhammed Mustafa (saw), who have come from his lineage, show just how important a prophet Abraham (as) is in history.
Both the Ka’bah and the rituals of pilgrimage are full of memories Abraham (as) has left behind and which will continue to remembered and re-enacted until the final hour. Millions of Muslims around the world also send their salutations to him, as well as our Prophet (as), multiple times a day during prayer.
Abu Muhammed Qab ibn Ujrah (ra) explains:
“One day, when the Messenger of Allah (saw) was next to us, we asked him, ‘We know how to greet (salam) you but how do we send our blessings (salawat) to you?’ He told us to say:
“Allah…Grace Muhammed, his family and true followers, just as you graced Abraham, his family and true followers. You indeed are praiseworthy and glorious. Allah…Bless Muhammed, his family and true followers, just as you blessed Abraham, his family and true followers. You indeed are praiseworthy and glorious”. (Al-Bukhari, Deawat, 32; Al-Tirmidhi, Witr, 20; Ibn Majah, Iqamah, 25)
The First Pilgrimage
Once the construction was complete, Jibril (as) advised Abraham (as) to, “Circumambulate the Ka’bah!”
The father and son walked around the House of Allah, greeting the Black Stone in each lap. After offering a two-rakat prayer behind the Maqam Ibrahim, they completed the other parts of the pilgrimage under the personal guidance of Jibril (as), who then told Abraham (as) to invite people far and wide to come to pilgrimage. Abraham (as) asked how and Jibril (as) replied, ‘Say, ‘People! Accept the invitation of your Lord’, three times!”
Abraham (as) then asked the Almighty, “My Lord…how can I get my voice heard to people?”
The Almighty declared, “Call it out. It is for Me to make your voice heard!”
The Qur’an recounts those words as:
“And proclaim to the people the hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” (Al-Hajj, 22: 27)
From that time on, Abraham (as) began to come to Mecca every year to make pilgrimage. The prophets who came after him, as well as their followers, have done the same. Also, the prophets, whose people were destroyed, would spend their final years in Mecca. It has been reported that 99 prophets passed away in Mecca and are buried in the area between Maqam Ibrahim and the Zamzam Springs, while another 70 have offered prayer at the mosque in Mina.
The Prayers and Pleas of Abraham (as)
The Qur’an quotes the prayers of Abraham (as) more than any other prophet. He would plead to Allah from the bottom of his heart at every opportunity. Among plenty of others, the Qur’an conveys the following prayers he made:
“Our Lord, indeed You know what we conceal and what we declare, and nothing is hidden from Allah on the earth or in the heaven.” (Ibrahim, 14: 38)
“Praise to Allah, who has granted to me in old age Ismail and Isaac. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication.” (Ibrahim, 14: 39)
“My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication.” (Ibrahim, 14: 40)
“Our Lord, forgive me and my parents and the believers the day the account is established.” (Ibrahim, 14: 41)
“My Lord, grant me authority and join me with the righteous. And grant me a reputation of honor among later generations. And place me among the inheritors of the Garden of Pleasure. And forgive my father. Indeed, he has been of those astray. And do not disgrace me on the Day they are all resurrected. The Day when there will not benefit anyone wealth or children. But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Al-Shu’ara, 42: 83-89)
Returning to the Lord with a sound heart is made possible by spending in the path of good, teaching one’s children the truth, protecting the heart from the corrupting influences of wealth and children, safeguarding oneself from ignorance in matters of religion, and abstaining from immorality and all other bad qualities.
Abu’l Qasim al-Hakim says the heart of a person is sound if:
He does not hurt anyone physically or emotionally,
He is not hurt by anyone,
And he does not expect anyone to return his favours.
If one does not hurt others, he returns to the Lord with piety. If he does not allow himself to get hurt or offended by others, he returns with loyalty. If he does not expect a reward for the good things he does, he returns with sincerity.
Abraham’s (as) Advices
The Almighty revealed the following to Abraham (as):
“You are truly My friend and I am yours. I know what is inside your heart, so do not ever let anyone else in there other than Me. I will otherwise cut off your love for Me. For I have chosen such a person for My love that even if I burn him in flames, his heart will not turn to or be occupied with anyone other than Me. When he becomes like that for Me, I place My love in his heart. I continue to grace and bless him…and I bring him close to Me.”
Abraham (as) offered the following words to those who wanted advice from him:
“When you see people preoccupied with the world, occupy yourselves with the hereafter. Should they spend time on improving their looks, spend time improving your hearts. If they spend their days renovating their palaces and gardens, spend yours renovating the graveyards. If you see them focus on each other’s faults, focus on your own faults.”
Abraham (as) is a prophet of such enormous honour that he is acknowledged and respected by the followers of all the major religions. Despite denying the Qur’an, even the Arab pagans would accept his eminence by proudly claiming him as their ancestor. He is highly revered and esteemed by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Until Abraham (as), no prophet had been privileged with the love and respect of most people on earth. However, while many people may claim Abraham (as) as their own, the Qur’an sets things straight by telling us who exactly he was:
“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a hanif and Muslim. And he was not of the pagans. Indeed, the worthiest of Abraham among the people are those who followed him in submission to Allah and this prophet, and those who believe in his message. And Allah is the ally of the believers.” (Al Imran, 3: 67-68)
Anas (ra) explains:
“A man once addressed the Messenger of Allah (saw) as the best of creation. The Messenger (saw) said:
‘What you say is the attribute of Abraham.’” (Muslim, Fada’il, 150)
. Due to his legendary submission and trust in God and his status as Khalilullah, or the friend of Allah, prophet Abraham (as) has earned the love of people far and wide and many have since named their sons Khalil Ibrahim in his honor.
. A hanif is a person who cleanses himself of superstitious beliefs, mistaken thoughts and bad morals, turns to the good and the truth, and as a monotheist, prays only to God and expects rewards only from Him. This is a distinctive quality that sets Islam apart in belief, ethics as well as social interaction.
Although hanif is a quality of Abraham’s (as) religion and people, as the total opposite of polytheism, it is the uniting feature of the teachings of all prophets and the defining aspect of monotheism, the religion of tawhid. A hanif is a Muslim who steers away from the false, believes in tawhid and adheres to the religion of prophets, who have been tasked with spreading the message that belief is exclusively to be directed to God and God alone is to be worshipped.
. This has also been taken to mean that the pagans got into a verbal argument and started blaming each other, calling one another ‘tyrants’ for going to celebrate while leaving their idols vulnerable and unprotected.
. Hanun would later be sunk to the bottom of the earth.
. Harran takes its name from Abraham’s (as) brother Harran, who founded the ancient city.
. See, Muslim, Fada’il, 154.
. Also see, al-Saffat, 37: 98.
. Here, Abraham (as) is saying he wants to take the road towards God. And the below verse suggests that the Prophet (saw) was personally taken to God:
“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Al-Isra, 17: 1).
. See, Hakim, al-Mustadrak, II, 605-606; al-Tabari, Tarikh, I, 263-278.
. A waqf is the notion of ‘loving the created for the sake of the Creator’ come to life in an institution. It is forbidden to buy or sell a waqf as to buy and sell something presupposes ownership; and ownership is seen as a power that belongs exclusively to God.
. One lap around the Ka’bah, beginning and ending at the Black Stone, is called a shawt.