Our Father - Connection of Ibrahim (AS) and Islam
Allah has given many names to His religion. Its called "Siratim-mustakeem" means the straight path, besides "Islam" being the most common name. It is also called the "Religion of Ibrahim" because the foundations of Islam was laid down by Ibrahim (AS). And if you look at the career graph of Muhammad (SAWS), the last prophet on earth, his 23 years of prophet hood was spent in Makkah to restore the laws of Islam. Ibrahim (AS) is called the father of the Ummah (generation) of Muhammad (SAWS) because the roots of Islam originate from the legacy of Ibrahim (AS).
Allah addresses Ibrahim (AS) as a nation in himself. A nation is a group of people doing the same thing or have something in common. Ibrahim (AS) being a nation in himself as he has set the direction of the path to be followed by the generations to come. Ibrahim (AS) did not need anyone to be followed in his time because he received divine guidance directly from Allah and he lived up to his promise and displayed true guidance through his behavior till his last breath.
Another reason why he was called Ummah in himself is because he never submitted to peer pressure and always questioned the religious beliefs and practices of his community. It's easy to say but difficult to implement.
Everyone has a choice, but the difference is the pressure which influence our choices. That indireclty becomes a law for the poeple to "fit in" the ideals of society. Anyone not admitting to such pressure at any point of time in their life is probably lying. And the irony of such a thought is that such choices made out of sceital pressure doesn't matter after sometime! We need to have a kind of dedication to ourselves to define our choices based on our discretion. And for Muslims this discretion is given in the form of divine guidance of the Quran. Ibrahim (As) never feared to oppose the practices of his community and ultimately find true guidance.
Ibrahim (as) , inspite of being loving and kind to his father, who was into idol worship, was always committed to the truth that came to him. He knew that standing up for what is right meant, that included going against the people we are close and we love.
Why is Ibrahim called an Ummah? First, there is no reluctance in him when it comes to submission to Allah. No pressure and fear mattered to him. Many muslims are in explicit haraam business but the son cannot question the elders regarding the legitimacy of the business in the eyes of Islam; but when any questions is raised the mouth is shut by stating the verse of Quran where Allah asks believers to be respectful towards parents. Islam, which was made to submit our will to Allah, is used to rebel against other people! In contrast, the life of Ibrahim (as) is full of such choices which were against its own family and community because of his choice to follow the truthful guidance bestowed on him by Allah. The only pressure that mattered to him was rhe commandments of Allah.
Secondly, he is Haneef. Hanaf in Arabic is a bow, to create a bend pressure is required to bend it. Once the pressure is released it goes back to the normal shape. Haneef is the person who constantly struggles to bend the rules of society to follow the truth. No doubt, Ibrahim (as) followed the truth, but the background of his life is filled with the constant struggle to stick to the truth of Allah and Islam.
This is the reason why studying the life story of Ibrahim (as) is important for everyone who wants to have an inspiration and example to follow the truth in spite of circumstances. Commitment to remain steadfast on the values and principles is one of the greatest blessings anyone can have in their life.
Allah help to us to remain steadfast on His divine guidance till our last breath. Aameen