Journey of Faith - Life Story of Ibrahim (A.S)
The Legacy of Prophets
We all know that in different periods and in different parts of the world, Allah sent down number of prophets to convey the message of Islam. Each and every prophet is important in the sight of Allah, but some of these prophets gained more importance than others, because of increased responsibilities and special powers. One such prophet is Ibrahim (AS). Ibrahim (A.S) has been given special status - 'Friend of Allah'. Such is his stature that without sending peace and blessings (darood) no Salah ( prayer) is complete. He is regarded as the father and leader of humanity.
Journey Towards Enlightenment
The story of Ibrahim (AS) is fascinating and inspiring, more so because of the stature received by him because of his farsightedness and impeccable long term vision of spiritual leadership of human kind.
Such a kind of high stature cannot be achieved without great sacrifices and seemingly impossible to pass through trials and tribulations. Ibrahim (AS) had been through such trials and tribulations in which any other human being in his place would have easily slipped off the right path.
Ibrahim (AS) was born in an idol worshiping family. His father was the chief of the seller of idols. From a very young age, he was gifted with the sense of right and wrong, as is the case of every prophet sent to the face of the earth. Like every other father, Ibrahim (AS) father, Azhar, also wanted his son to takeover his place after him. He began to teach him the rites and rituals of the idol worshiped of which they belonged to.
Ibrahim (AS) as an obedient son, began to observe the worship practices of his community. He saw people worshiping the moon and stars. They claimed to be gods worthy of worship. But as soon as sunlight took over the sky, the moon and sky disappeared by dawn,. Ibrahim (AS) remarked " The sun and the moon set under the bright light. Therefore the moon and the stars cannot be my Lord." Then he saw some worshiping the sun as they claimed it is more powerful than the moon and the stars. But as darkness prevailed in the sky, the brightness of the sun disappeared at dusk. Ibrahim (AS) again exclaimed "I cannot worship something that which cannot overpower the darkness!"
Disappointed with not finding the right answers for his faith and reason for idol worship, he exclaimed looking at the sky " If the right Lord does not guide me to the true faith, I would be at loss my whole life!"
Ibrabhim AS enquired his father about this idol worshiping practice. He exclaimed "Oh my father! Why do you worship things which cannot harm or benefit us or themselves, which have no power on themselves or us?" Shocked and dismayed by his questions, the father understood that his son will not follow the path of his forefathers. He warned Ibrahim (AS) that he would pelt him with stones if he did not obey him. Ibrahim (AS) remained calm but firm and declared that I will follow what is correct and will pray to the strongest force in the universe to guide you to the straight path."
Ibrahim (AS) decided that he will worship only that which is the lord of all these creations to his father and all of his community while severing all forms of worship to created things.
The Truth of Idol Worship Brought Out by Ibrahim (AS)
There was a great festival that was to take place in the local community. Ibrahim (AS) did not wish to participate and requested to stay back citing ill health. While every one was out celebrating the festival, Ibrahim (AS) entered the place where all the idols were kept collectively. He picked up an axe, and one by one started chopping off the heads of all idols. He did that for all idols except for one big and main idol. Ibrahim (AS) placed the axe on the shoulder of the largest idol.
All people of the community, as per customary practice, headed out to the sanctuary of idols to pay homage before retiring for the day. When they entered the sanctuary, they were shocked to the core to see the heads of all idols missing. Everyone had only one name in their mind to blame this act for and that was Ibrahim (AS), as he was the only one who did not participate in the festival. They all gathered around him and were about to hold him responsible for this act to which Ibrahim (AS) replied "It was not me who have broken the heads of all idols. The chief idol holding the axe has done it."
People around him were aghast and perplexed at his reply. They did not know how to react to his answer. Deep down in their hearts and mind it dawned upon them; rather the deep truth of idols resurfaced. They realized that idols cannot benefit nor harm anyone or themselves. So it is not possible for a statue to come to life and destroy other idols.
As soon as they realized that Ibrahim (AS) has posed an immediate and imminent threat to their idols and its worship, they decided to kill him so as to safeguard their blind belief and avoid similar challenges to their faith in the future. Every member of his clan decided to burn him in public so as to make people see for themselves the consequences of questioning faith and religion. A huge fire pit with logs and woods was prepared to burn Ibrahim (AS). So much hatred was developed during this time that the men and women pledged to contribute to the fire with fuel if their wish and prayers were fulfilled through idol worship.
But Allah, the Almighty, the one true Lord who had chosen Ibrahim (AS) as His prophet, had a miraculous plan for his Messenger. On the day of the punishment where he would be burned as conspired, Ibrahim (AS) called out to the one true Lord above the skies and cried "Oh Lord, if you are the Truth and worthy of worship, save me from this fire!" This is the Dua Ibrahim (alayhissalam) made that saved him from his enemies. It is reported in Sahih Bukhari that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, حَسْبُنَا اللهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيْلُ “Hasbuna Allahu wa ni’ma al-wakeel was said by Ibrahim when he was thrown into the fire.”
These words changed his entire fate. When it came from the heart, it meant, “Oh Allah, you’re all that I need, I don’t need anybody else, I don’t need an army, I don’t need the world to come and save me."
The fire which was meant to be burn him, Allah commanded the fire to be cool to him to safeguard him. He was indeed in the fire but with Allah's command, the fire place became a place of coolness and comfort for him.
The Test of Beloved
Allah chose Ibrahim (AS) as prophet for that time and he went on to preach the teachings of oneness of Allah and his worship. Later in his life he married Sara, with whom he did not have any children. Sara offered her maid Hajra, to her husband. Ibrahim (AS) married her and they had a son Ismaeel (AS), after prolonged desire and prayer to have a son to continue the legacy of preaching the teachings of Allah as Allah taught Ibrahim (AS).
Allah decided to test him further. Allah conveyed to Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his most beloved thing to Him. Ibrahim (AS) offered 100 camels, distributed all his property, etc., all of which was not accepted. Allah conveyed in his dream that these are not the beloved things to you. It later dawned on Ibrahim (AS) that it was his beloved child that he loved and cherished, who he had obtained after years of prayers and devotion.
Ibrahim (AS) realized this and set out with his son to sacrifice him for the sake of Allah only. So pleased Allah was with his slave's obedience that Allah accepted a mule that came between Ibrahim (AS) and his son. This is the story that Eid ul Adha is celebrated by sacrificing animal as prescribed in the hadith. Allah loved the acts of Ibrahim (AS) that he made it a ritual to be followed till the last day on Earth. The sacrifice of animal on the day of EId denotes and testifies the willingness of every Muslim to sacrifice his/her wishes and desires in front of the commands of Allah (SWT).
Lessons from the Great Life of Ibrahim AS
From the innumerable lessons from the life of Ibrahim (AS), some pointers which we can instill in our lives are summarized.
- Always be firm on Tawheed. Keep Allah and His commands at the centre of everything that you do. Demonstrate oneness of Allah in small acts so that others around you are inspired towards Tawheed. Ibrahim AS kept himself away from any kind of Shirk and also fought against Shirk that took place in his environment.
- Ibrahim (AS) submitted himself wholeheartedly to the will of Allah. He never allowed himself to have seconds thoughts while executing Allah's command. Then whether that command was to leave his wife and child in the desert or to sacrifice his child, he always was ready to obey, disregarding his wishes and Satan's whispering.
- Ibrahim (AS) was one of the most grateful servants of Allah. Any amount of hardship did not deter him from praising the favors of Allah granted to him. So much was his gratefulness that Allah described him in the Quran as "the one who fulfilled his promise."
- Following Ibrahim (AS) is like following Muhammad (SAWS). This is because the teachings of both are same on the grounds on Oneness of Allah and His faith.
- He engaged alot in dua and praising Allah. He always had hope and belief that Allah will answer his prayers. He used to reach out to Allah for any small or big difficulties and also to praise Him.
- Ibrahim (AS) was also the one who engaged in alot of worship. He used to wake in the depths of the night and seek Allah's forgiveness. He prayed for his community and their forgiveness and to guide his Ummah to the straight path.
- Ibraahim (AS) was best in terms of hospitality and treating guests with honor. Once angels came as travellers to his doorstep and asked for some food to be served Ibrahim (AS) cut the only milking goat they had. when food was prepared and served they did not eat; but rather revealed to Ibrahim (AS) that they are in fact angels who have come to give him glad tidings of a heir to be born to him.
- All these teachings are for followers of Muhammad (SAWS) and not only of Ibrahim (AS). May Allah empower our Iman to follow the teachings of Allah and His Prophets. Aameen