Saturday, December 23, 2006

Lessons from the story of Ibrahim (as)

The following is the transcript of a circle deliveered by a brother.

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لله وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ واتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَاتَّخَذَ اللّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلاً
"Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in Faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend."

Abul al an’biya (father of the Prophets min al ulil Adham min arusl) Ibrahim (as). Ibrahim who was mentioned in 73 places in the Quran. In 25 Surahs of the book of Allah. Ibrahim, was born in Babylon in Iraq, the land of the Chaldeans (Al Kaldanieen), also known as Babylonia. At that time some people worshipped idols of stone and wood; others worshipped the planets, stars, sun and moon; still others worshipped their kings and rulers.

Abraham was born into that atmosphere, into a typical family of that ancient time. The head of the family was not even an ordinary idolater, but was one who totally rejected Allâh and who used to make the idols with his own hands. Some traditions claimed that Abraham's father died before his birth and he was raised by an uncle whom Abraham called father. Other traditions said that his father was alive and was named Azer.

Into that family Abraham was born, destined to stand against his own family, against the entire system of his community. In brief, he stood against all kinds of Shirk.

He was endowed with spiritual understanding from an early age. Allâh enlightened his heart and mind gave him wisdom from childhood. Allah (swt) Says:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ رُشْدَهُ مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا بِه عَالِمِينَ

"We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him."

During his early childhood Abraham realized that his father made strange statues. One day, he asked him about what it was he made. His father replied that he made statues of gods. Abraham was astonished and he spontaneously rejected the idea. Being a child he played with such statues sitting on their backs as people sit on the backs of donkeys and mules.

The people in Babylon used to worship many Idols from amonst them were: Mardukh (Considered to be the god of gods), there were other gods too, such as Ay (god of justice and law), Seen (the god of the heavens) as well as others

One day his father saw him riding the statue of Mardukh. So and he became furious. He ordered his son not to play with it again.

Abraham asked: "What is this statue, father? It has big ears, bigger than ours."
His father answered: "It is Mardukh, the god of gods, son! These big ears show his deep knowledge."

This made Abraham laugh, he was only seven years old at that time. Since his childhood his heart had been full of hatred for these idols. He could not understand how a sane person could make a statue and then worship what he had made. He noticed that these idols did not eat, drink or talk and they could not even turn themselves right side up if someone turned them upside down. How, then could people believe that such statues could harm or benefit them?

Abraham 's people had a big temple full of idols, in the middle of which was a niche accommodating the biggest gods which was of different kinds, qualities and shapes. Abraham, who used to go to the temple with his father when he was a child, greatly despised all that wood and stone. What surprised him was the way his people behaved when they entered the temple; they bowed and started to cry, begging and imploring their gods for help as if the idols could hear or understand these requests! Just like today the way our rulers bow, beg and cry to their colonial masters.

One night Abraham left his house to go to a mountain. He walked alone in the dark until he chose a cave in the mountain where he sat resting his back against its wall. He looked at the sky. He had hardly seen it when he remembered that he was looking at planets and stars which were worshipped by some people on earth. His young heart was filled with tremendous pain. He considered what was beyond the moon, the stars and the planets (i.e. Allâh) and was astonished that these celestial bodies were worshipped by men when they had been created to worship and obey their Creator, appearing and disappearing at His command.

Ibrahim (as) started his da’wa to his father, Allah (swt) mentiones in the Quran:

إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ لِمَ تَعْبُدُ مَا لَا يَسْمَعُ وَلَا يُبْصِرُ وَلَا يُغْنِي عَنكَ شَيْئًا

يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي قَدْ جَاءنِي مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَمْ يَأْتِكَ فَاتَّبِعْنِي أَهْدِكَ صِرَاطًا سَوِيًّا
"O my father! to me has come knowledge which has not reached you: so follow me: I will guide you to a way that is even and straight."

Ibrahim was very young when he did this, maybe less than 16 years old, Ibrahim is directed this discussion to someone not only older than him, but his father. Why would Ibrahim ask his father to follow him? Ibrahim said: to me has come knowledge which has not reached you. So that Ibrahim can take leadership of his father and People based on his message and knowledge that Allah gave him.

So we know that the best leaders that ever lived are those who use the knowledge and shari’ah of Allah (swt). Just like the Previous Prophets like Dawud, Sulayman, Muhammad (saw) and also after the Propthets and Messengers The Khulafaa like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman Ali and the other great Khulafaa.

But what about now? The useless and spineless leaders we have ruling the muslim world. Where we have so many problems be it in the political, social or economic matters. Just like RasulAllah (saw) said in a hadith that one of the signs of day of Judgement will be ‘imarat as-sufaha’ leadership of the foolish.

So Ibrahim (as) Father replied to him and said:

قَالَ أَرَاغِبٌ أَنتَ عَنْ آلِهَتِي يَا إِبْراهِيمُ لَئِن لَّمْ تَنتَهِ لَأَرْجُمَنَّكَ وَاهْجُرْنِي مَلِيًّا
"(The father) replied: "Dost thou hate my gods, O Ibraham? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee: Now get away from me for a good long while!"

Abraham left his father's house and abandoned his people and what they worshipped. He decide to do something about their state of disbelief, but did not reveal it. He knew that there was going to be a great celebration on the other bank of the river which would be attended by all the people.

Abraham waited until the city was empty, then came out cautiously, directing his steps towards the temple. the streets leading to it were empty and the temple itself was deserted for the priests had also gone to the festival outside the city.
Abraham went there carrying a sharp axe. He looked at the stone and wood statues of the gods and at the food laid in front of them as offerings. He approached one of the statues and asked:

فَرَاغَ إِلَى آلِهَتِهِمْ فَقَالَ أَلَا تَأْكُلُونَ
"The food in front of you is getting cold. Why don't you eat?" the statue kept silent and rigid. Abraham asked all the other statues around him: "Will you not eat of the offering before you?" (Ch 37:91)

مَا لَكُمْ لَا تَنطِقُونَ
"He was mocking them for he knew they would not eat. He once again asked then: "What is the matter with you that you do not speak?" (Ch 37:92)

He then raised his axe and started smashing the false gods worshipped by the people. He destroyed them all except one on whose neck he hung the axe. After this his anger subsides and he felt at peace. He left the temple. He had fulfilled his vow to show his people a practical proof of their foolishness in worshipping something other than Allah (swt).

When the people returned, they were shocked to see their gods smashed to pieces, lying scattered all over the temple. They began to guess who had done that to their idols and Abraham's name came to their minds.

Allâh the Almighty said: they said:

قَالُوا مَن فَعَلَ هَذَا بِآلِهَتِنَا إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
"Who has done this to our aliah (gods)? He must indeed be one of the wrongdoers." They said:

قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا فَتًى يَذْكُرُهُمْ يُقَالُ لَهُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ
"We heard a young man talking against them who is called Abraham." They said: "Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may testify." they said: "Are you the one who has done this to our gods, O Abraham?" Abraham said:

قَالَ بَلْ فَعَلَهُ كَبِيرُهُمْ هَذَا فَاسْأَلُوهُمْ إِن كَانُوا يَنطِقُونَ
"nay, this one, the biggest of them (idols) did it, Ask them, if they can speak!"

So they turned to themselves and said: "Verily you are the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrongdoers)." Then they turned to themselves (their first thought and said): "Indeed you (Abraham) know well that these idols speak not?" Abraham said: "DO you then worship besides Allâh, things that can neither profit you nor harm you? If upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allâh! Have you then no sense?" (Ch 21:59-67 Qur'ân)

Furious, they demanded that Abraham be arrested and tried. Abraham did not resist. this was precisely what he had been aiming for, so that he could show them up in public for their foolish beliefs. Just like the da’wa carriers today, when they get arrested by the ruthless regimes when the da’wa carriers with nothing but the intellectual challenge of the Ideology of Islam challenges the systems of capitalism and the like.

At the trial they asked him if he was responsible for breaking the idols. Smiling, he told them to ask the biggest idol which was still whole. He told them that he must be the culprit! They replied that he knew well that the idol could not speak or move which gave Abraham the chance to prove the foolishness of worshipping these lifeless objects.

They then realized the senselessness of their beliefs; however, their arrogance would not allow them to admit their foolishness. All they could do was to use their power of authority as tyrants usually do to punish Abraham. They kept him in chains and planned their revenge.

Anger was burning in their hearts. They decided to throw Abraham into the biggest fire they could build. All the citizens were ordered to gather wood as a service to their gods. Ignorant, sick women vowed that if they were cured they would donate so much wood to burn Abraham. For several days they collected fuel.

They dug a deep pit, filled it with firewood and ignited it. They brought a catapult with which to cast Abraham into the fire. Abraham was put on the catapult, his hands and feet were tied. The fire was ready with its flame reaching the sky. The people stood away from the pit because of the great heat. Then the chief priest gave his order to cast Abraham into the fire.

The angel Gabriel came near Abraham's head and asked him: "O Abraham do you wish for anything?" Abraham replied: "Nothing from you."

The catapult was shot and Abraham was cast into the fire. But his descent into the blaze was as descent on steps in a cool garden. The flames were still there, but they did not burn for Allâh the Almighty had issued His command: "O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham." (Ch 21:69 Qur'ân)

The fire submitted to the will of Allâh, becoming cool and safe for Abraham. It only burned his bonds, and he sat in the midst of the fire as if he were sitting in a garden. He glorified and praised Allâh the Almighty, with a heart that contained only his love for Allâh. There was not any vacant space therein for fear, awe, or worry. It was filled with love only.
Fear and awe were dead, and the fire was turned into coolness, making the air pleasant. Those who love Allâh as Abraham do did not fear.

Allâh declared: Those (believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said: "Verily! the people (pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them." but it only increased them in Faith, and they said: Allâh Alone is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs for us."

So they returned with Grace and Bounty from Allâh. No harm touched them; and they followed the good Pleasure of Allâh. Allâh is the Owner of Great bounty. It is only Satan that suggests to you the fear of his Auliya (supporters and friends, polytheists, disbeliveers in the Oneness of Allâh and in His Messenger Muhammad) so fear them not but fear Me if you are true believers." (Ch 3:173-175 Qur'ân)

The throng, the chiefs, and the priests sad watching the fire from a distance. It was burning their faces and nearly suffocating them. It kept burning for such a long time that the disbeliveers thought it would never be extinguished. When it did burn out, they were greatly amazed to find Abraham coming out of the pit untouched by the fire. Their faces were black from the smoke, but his was bright with the light and grace of Allâh. The raging fire had become cool for Abraham and had only charred the ropes which held him. He walked out of the fire as if he were walking out of a garden. Cries of astonishment were heard from the heathens. They wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers. (Ch 21:70)

This miracle shamed the tyrants, but it did not cool the flame of anger in their hearts. However after his event many of the people followed Abraham, although some kept their belief a secret for fear of harm or death at the hands of the rulers.

Abraham had established a definite reasoning against idolaters. Nothing was left for him except to reason against the people who proclaimed themselves gods.

When the king, Namrud, heard of Abraham's safe exit from the fire he became very angry. He feared that the status of godhead he had proclaimed for himself was not challenged by an ordinary human being. He summoned Abraham to the palace and held a dialogue with him which Allâh Almighty recounted:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَآجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رِبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللّهُ الْمُلْكَ إِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِـي وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِـي وَأُمِيتُ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
"Have you not thought about him who disputed with Abraham about his Lord (Allâh) because Allâh had given him the kingdom? When Abraham said to him: "My Lord (Allâh) is He Who gives life and causes death." He said: "I give life and cause death." Abraham said: "Verily, Allâh causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it you to rise from the west." So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. Allâh guides not the people who are Zalimeen (wrongdoers etc)." (Ch 2:258 Qur'ân)

Abraham's fame spread throughout the entire kingdom. People talked about how he had been saved from the blazing fire and how he had debated with the king and left him speechless. In the meantime, Abraham continued calling people to believe in Allâh, exerting a great effort to guide his people to the right path. He tried every means to convince them. However in spite of his love and care for his people, they felt angry and deserted him. Only one woman and one man of his people shared his belief in Allâh. The woman's name was Sarah and she became his wife. The man's name was Lot and he became a prophet.

When Abraham realized that no one else was going to believe in his call, he decided to emigrate. He left his people and traveled with his wife and Lot to a city called Ur, then another called Haran, and then to Palestine.

Allâh the Almighty told us: So Lut believed in him (Abraham's message of Islamic Monotheism). He (Abraham) said: "I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily, He is the All Mighty, the All Wise." (Ch 29:26)

After Palestine, Abraham traveled to Egypt, calling people to believe in Allâh wherever he traveled, judging fairly between people, and guiding them to truth and righteousness.

Abu Hurairah narrated that Abraham peace be upon him did not tell a lie except on three occasions, twice for the sake of Allâh (Exalted and Almighty) when he said: "I am sick," (when his people were holding a festival in honor of their gods, Abraham excused himself by saying he was sick. (Ch 37:89 Qur'ân) and when he said: "(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it." The (third was) that while Abraham and Sarah (his wife) were going (on a journey), they passed by (the territory of) a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant: "This man (Abraham is accompanied by a very charming lady." So, he sent for Abraham and asked him about Sarah saying "Who is this lady?" Abraham said: "She is my sister." Abraham went to Sarah said "O Sarah! There are no believers on the surface of the earth except you and me. This man asked me about you and I have told him that you are my sister do not contradict my statement." the tyrant then called Sarah, and when she went to him, he tried to take a hold of her with his hand, but his hand got stiff and he was confounded. He asked Sarah: "Pray to Allâh for me and I shall not harm you." So Sarah asked Allâh to cure him and he got cured. He tried to take hold of her for the second time, but his hand got as stiff as or stiffer than before and he was more comfounded. He again requested Sarah: "Pray to Allâh for me, and I will not harm you." Sarah asked Allâh to again, and he became all right. He then called one of his guards who had brought her and said: "You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil." The tyrant then gave Hajar as a maid servant to Sarah. Abraham, gesturing with his hand, asked: "What has happened?" She replied: "Allâh has spoiled the evil plot of the infidel or immoral person and gave me Hajar for service." Abu Hurairah then addressed his listeners saying: "That Hajar was your mother, O Bani Ma is Sama (Arab, the descendants of Ishmael, Hajar's son)."

Abraham's wife Sarah was sterile. She had been given an Egyptian woman Hajar, as a servant. Abraham had aged and his hair was gray and after many years spent in calling people to Allâh. Sarah thought she and Abraham were lonely because she could not have a child. Therefore, she offered her husband her servant Hajar in marriage. Hajar gave birth to her first son Ishmael (isma'il) when Abraham was an old man.

Abraham, by God's command, accepted Sara's request. He took Hagar and Ismael with him and began journeying until, under the guidance of God, they entered the land of Makkah. He left them there and returned to Sara. The Quran narrates Abraham had prayed to God,saying, "Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley near your sacred house, so that they could be steadfast in prayer. Lord, fill the hearts of the people with love for them and produce fruits for their sustenance, so that they may give thanks".
Hagar, that helpless woman with her suckling baby, was left alone in that waterless and bare desert far from any city or town. But Hagar had learned the way of trust in and reliance on God from Abraham, so with faith in God, she followed the path of patience and tolerance. She lived on the provisions that she had until they were used up and hunger and thirst overcame her. Her milk dried up, leaving her baby hungry and thirsty.

Hoping to find water to save her baby's life, Hagar began to search in the desert but found nothing. Hopelessly, she returned to Ishmael and found him crying restlessly. Seeing her baby in this condition broke her heart. She, too, began weeping; she didn't know what to do.
The baby was overcome with weakness; it seemed that he was passing the last moments of life. Hagar ran seven times back and forth in the scorching heat between the two hills of Safa and Marwa, trying to mount a higher ground to spot any water in the area, until, completely disappointed and with tear-filled eyes, she returned to her baby. The agony of Hagar in her search for water is remembered by Muslims by imposing an act of ritual walking (sa`i, Arabic: سعى) that would signify her journey between the two hills in their Hajj at Makkah

Standing beside her baby, weeping and wailing, Hagar was watching that heartbreaking scene. God then sent the Angel Jibreel, who scraped the ground. From that spot, a clear spring gushed out from the ground and began to flow under Ishmael's feet. Hagar was delighted. But she was also anxious about the water flowing away. Hence, she confined the pool of water with sand and stones, remarking at the same time: Zam Zam ("Stop, Stop"). She then sat on the ground next to her baby, wet his lips and poured some of the water into his parched mouth, refreshing him. The danger to his life was over. Hagar also drank some water, recovered her strength, and praised God.(Other versions of the story say Ishmael scraped the ground with his heel and the ZamZam appeared.)

Little by little, birds came to use the water of the spring. The tribe of Jorhom, who dwelt in the area, discovered the spring because of the birds flying overhead and the tribe then settled beside it. They asked her permission to use the spring and she agreed.Hagar became acquainted with them, and her fear and loneliness were removed.In this way, the prayer of Abraham was answered. From time to time, Abraham would go to see Hagar and his child. Visiting them made him happy and reinvigorated him.

The spring that burst forth when Gabriel struck the ground on the orders of God still exists today and is called the Zamzam.

Abraham lived on earth worshipping Allâh and calling people to monotheism, but he was journeying to Allâh, knowing that his days on earth were limited and that they would be followed by death and finally resurrection. The knowledge of life after death filled Abraham with peace and love and certitude.

One day he begged Allâh to show him how He brought the dead back to life. Allâh commanded Abraham to take four birds, cut them up and mingle their body parts, divide them into four portions and place them on top of four different hills, then call back the birds in Allâh's name. Abraham did as he was told. Immediately the mingled parts of the birds separated to join their original bodies in different places and the birds flew back to Abraham.

Almighty Allâh revealed: Remember when Abraham said: "My Lord Show me how You give life to the dead." Allâh said: "Do you not believe?" Abraham said: "Yes I believe, but to be stronger in Faith." HE said: "Take four birds, the cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces) and then put a portion of them on every hill and call them they will come to you in haste. And know that Allâh is All Mighty and All Wise." (Ch 2:260 Qur'ân)

اللّهم صلِّ على محمّدٍ وآلِ محمّدٍ كما صَلَّيتَ على إبراهيمَ وآلِ إبراهيم إنّكَ حَميدٌ مَجيدٌ

Abu Sa'ad al-Babari

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting a great story of history!