Ibrahim, known as Abraham in the Hebrew Bible, was given the title ‘ خليل الله’ KHALILULLAH’, which means ‘the friend of Allah’. Ibrahim (A.S.) was the forefather of many great Prophets and is held in high esteem by all the major revealed religions i-e Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Ibrahim (A.S.) belongs to the 25 prophets mentioned in the Quran. He is also among the five prophets of Ulul’azm (Arch-Prophets) as these five prophets have books and divine religious laws. These five prophets of Allah are Noah [Nuh (A.S.)], Abraham [Ibrahim (A.S.)], Moses [Musa (A.S.)], Jesus [Esa (A.S.)], and Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.).
Ibrahim (A.S.) is mentioned by name 69 times in Quran.
Ibrahim (A.S.) is a prophet who is tested by Allah and despite severe trials and challenges, Ibrahim (A.S.) was shown as a servant who kept his promise and always showed a respectable attitude. As Allah says in Al-Quran:
“And of Ibrahim (Abraham) who fulfilled (or conveyed) all that (what Allah ordered him to do or convey)” (Surah An-Najam: 53:37)
Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) was the son of Aazar ibn Nahur, ibn Sarough, ibn Raghu, ibn Phaligh, ibn Aher, ibn Shalih, ibn Arfghshand, ibn Sam, ibn Nuh (A.S.). Ibrahim (A.S.) was born in the ancient city of Ur of the Chaldea, also known as Babylonia or Babylon (currently located in Iraq). He was born in a house of idolaters and his father was a well-known idol sculptor. As a young child, Ibrahim (A.S.) used to watch his father sculpting these idols from stones or wood. At that time some people worshipped idols of stone and wood, others worshipped the planets, stars, sun, moon and some other worshipped their kings and rulers. Allah has gifted Ibrahim (A.S.) with spiritual understanding and gave him wisdom from an early age. Allah says in Al-Quran:
“Indeed We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his (portion of) guidance, and We Were Well Acquainted with him (as to his Belief in the Oneness of Allah etc)” (Surah Anbiya: 21:51)
During his early childhood, Ibrahim (A.S.) realized that his father made strange statues. One day, he asked about his father’s creation then his father told him that these were the statues of the gods. Ibrahim (A.S.) 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. One day, his father saw him riding a statue called Mardukh. At that moment his father was angry and ordered his son not to play with the statue again. Ibrahim (A.S.) asked: “What is this statue, my father? It has big ears, bigger than ours.” His father replied: “It is Mardukh, god of gods, my son, and the two great ears as a symbol of great intelligence.” This made Abraham laugh, he was only seven years old at that time.
In the cave from where view of the sky was clear, Ibrahim (A.S.) spend some time looking at the sky. 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. Allah) and was astonished that these celestial bodies were worshipped by men whereas they had been created to worship and obey their Creator. Ibrahim (A.S.) came back to his house and asked his father and also his people who worshipped these celestial bodies. As Allah narrates Ibrahim’s (A.S.) words in Al-Quran:
“And (remember) when Abraham said to his father Azar: “Do you take idols as aliha (gods)? Verily, I see you and your people in manifest error.” Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith with certainty. When the night covered him over with darkness he saw a star. He said: “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said: “I like not those that set.” [Surah Al-Anaam (6: 74 to 76)]
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, inclining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah.” [Surah Al-Anaam (6: 77 to 79)]
And his people argued with him. He said:
“Do you argue with me concerning Allah while He has guided me? And I fear not what you associate with Him [and will not be harmed] unless my Lord should will something. My Lord encompasses all things in knowledge; then will you not remember? And how should I fear what you associate while you do not fear that you have associated with Allah that for which He has not sent down to you any authority? So which of the two parties has more right to security, if you should know? They who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice – those will have security, and they are [rightly] guided. And that was Our [conclusive] argument which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise by degrees whom We will. Indeed, your Lord is Wise and Knowing.” [Surah Al-Anaam (6: 80 to 83)]
In that debate, Ibrahim (A.S.) clarified to his people that these celestial bodies do not serve as deities and cannot be worshipped as partners with Allah. Indeed, these bodies are created things, fashioned, controlled, managed and made to serve. They appear sometimes and disappear at others, going out of sight from our world. However, Allah does not lose sight of anything, and nothing can be hidden from Him. He is without end, everlasting without disappearance. There is no other deity but Allah. Allah Says in Al-Quran:
“And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostate to Allah, who created them, if it should be Him that you worship.” (Surah Fussilat: 41:37)
Ibrahim (A.S.) did his best to make his people heedful to the belief in the oneness of Allah and to worship of Him alone. When he said to his father and his people:
“What are these statues to which you are devoted?” They said, “We found our fathers worshippers of them.” He said, “You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error.” They said: “Have you brought us the truth, or are you one of those who play about?” 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.” [Surah Fussilat (41:52 to 56)]
Idolaters do not want people to worship other than idols. They decided to throw Ibrahim (A.S.) into the biggest fire they could build with the intent of burning him alive. All the disbelievers were ordered to gather wood for fire as a service to their gods. For several days they collected the firewood. They dug a deep pit, filled it with firewood and ignited it. They brought a catapult with which they will cast Ibrahim (A.S.) into the fire. They tied Ibrahim’s (A.S.) hands and feet with ropes and put him on the catapult. The fire was ready and its flames were reaching the sky. The people stood away from the pit because of the great heat. Then the chief priest gave his order to cast Ibrahim (A.S.) into the fire. The angel Gabriel (A.S.) came near Ibrahim’s (A.S.) head and asked him: “O Abraham do you wish for anything?” Ibrahim (A.S.) 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 Ibrahim (A.S.) as Allah issued His command:
“O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham.” (Surah Al-Anbiya: 21:69)
The fire was subject to the command of Allah until it became cold and brought salvation to Ibrahim (A.S.). The fire only burned ropes that bind Ibrahim (A.S.). He was calm in the middle of the fire as if he were sitting in the middle of the garden. He praised Allah and glorified Him. What is in his heart is only love to the Beloved, i-e Allah. Ibrahim’s (A.S.) heart was not filled with fear or regret or lamentation. The only thing in his heart was just love for Allah. The fire was peaceful and cold. Indeed, those who love Allah will not feel frightened.
The people, the chiefs, and the priests were watching the fire from a distance as this huge fire was burning their faces and nearly suffocated them. It kept burning for such a long time that the disbelievers thought it would never be extinguished. When it did burn out, they were greatly amazed to find Ibrahim (A.S.) coming out of the pit untouched by the fire. Their faces were black from the smoke, but Ibrahim (A.S.) face was bright with the light and grace of Allah. The raging fire had become cool for Ibrahim (A.S.) and had only charred the ropes which held him. He walked out of the fire as if he was walking out of a garden. The unbelievers shouted in astonishment as they felt defeated by Ibrahim (A.S.). Allah says in Al-Quran:
“And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers.” (Surah Al-Anbiya: 21:70)
This miracle shamed the tyrants, but it did not cool the flame of anger in their hearts. However, after this event, many of the people believed Ibrahim’s (A.S.) preaching of Oneness of Allah, although they kept their belief a secret for fear of harm or death at the hands of the rulers/people.
So following are some of many lessons that we can learn from the story of Ibrahim (A.S.):
1 – Always have your trust in Allah.
2 – Always be good to your parents and never disrespect them.
3 – Be patient in all situations and have faith in Allah.
4 – Sacrifice the things that are dearest to us in the way of Allah.
Ibrahim (A.S.) acquires great respect and honor in the hearts of all Muslims. He is the most superior of the Prophets after Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). When we Muslim offer prayers i-e Salat/Namaz, we mention Ibrahim’s (A.S.) name in it alongwith the name of our Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). And the most comprehensive darood [salutation, sending peace and blessings on Mohammad (S.A.W.)] is ‘Darood-e-Ibrahimi’ . This shows what honor Allah has given to Ibrahim (A.S.) as Allah has ordered each believers/Muslims to send peace and blessings on Ibrahim (A.S.) and this will continue till the day of judgement. SUBHANALLAH