THE PROPHET IBRAHIM (peace be upon him)
THE PROPHET IBRAHIM (peace be upon him)
The Story of Abraham (Ibrahim), Ishmael (Isma’il), Isaac (Ishaaq), and Jacob (Yaqub) (Peace be upon them):
Section One -The Story of Abraham (Peace be upon him)
Some of the People of the Book stated that his name was Abraham Ibn Tarikh, Ibn Nahur, Ibn Sarough, Ibn Raghu, Ibn Phaligh, Ibn ‘Aher, Ibn Shalih, Ibn Arfghshand, Ibn Sam, Ibn Noah.
They said that when Tarikh was seventy five years old, he had Abraham, Nahor (Nohour) and Haran. Haran had a son named Lot (Lut). They also said that Abraham was the middle child and that Haran died in the lifetime of his father in the land where he was born, the land of the Chaldeans (Al-Kaldanieen), also known as Babylonia. At that time some people worshiped idols of stone and wood; others worshiped the planets, stars, sun and moon; still others worshiped 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 idolator, but was one who totally rejected Allah and who used to make the idols with his own hands. Some traditions claimed that Abraham’s father died before his birth and that 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 polytheism.
He was endowed with spiritual understanding from an early age. Allah enlightened his heart and mind and gave him wisdom from childhood. Allah the Almighty stated: «And 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 21:51
During his early childhood Abraham realised 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.
One day, his father saw him riding the statue of Mardukh 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.
Years passed and Abraham grew. 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 that 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 were 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 impoloring their gods for help as if the idols could hear or understand these requests!
At first, such a sight seemed funny to Abraham, but later he began to feel angry. Was it not astonishing that all those people could be deceived? What added to the problem was that his father wanted him to be a priest when he was grown. He wanted nothing more from his son than that he revere those statues, yet Abraham never stopped displaying his hatred and disdain of them.
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 worshiped 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 worshiped by men when they had been created to worship and obey their Creator, appearing and disappearing at His command.
Therefore, Abraham addressed his people who worshiped celestial bodies, as Almighty Allah revealed: «Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the 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.” When he saw the moon rising up he said: “This is my lord.” But when it set he said: “Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among the erring people.” When he saw the sun rising up, he said: “This is my lord. This is greater.” But when it set, he said: “O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism, i.e., worshiping none but Allah Alone) and I am not of Al-Mushrikeen (those who worship others besides Allah).”
His people disputed with him. He said: “Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while He has guided me and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember?
“And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit nor harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any authority. (So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security?.
If you but know.”
It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong, i.e., by worshiping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided. And that was Our Proof which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.» Surah 6: 75-83
In that debate, Abraham clarified to his people that these celestial bodies do not serve as deities and cannot be worshiped as partners with Allah the Almighty. 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 the Almighty 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.
Abraham made clear to them, first, that the celestial bodies are unworthy of worship and, second, that they are among the signs of Allah. Almighty Allah commanded: «And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him.» Surah 41: 37
Abraham’s reasoning helped to reveal the truth, and then the conflict between him and his people began, for the worshipers of the stars and planets did not stand mute. They began arguing and threatening Abraham.
Abraham replied: «”Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while He has guided me, and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember? And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit nor harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any authority. (So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security? . . . if you but know! It is those who believe (in the oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshiping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.”» Surah 6:80-82
The curtains are drawn on the first category of people, those who were worshiping celestial bodies. The next situation reveals the second group, those who were practicing idolatry.
Allah gave Abraham (PBUH) the reasoning he needed the first time and every time he argued with his people. Almighty Allah declared: «And that was Our Proof which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.»Surah 6:83
Abraham did his best to make his people heedful to the belief in the oneness of Almighty Allah and to the worship of Him alone. He bade them to firmly renounce the worship of idols. He said to his father and his people: «”What are these images, to which you are devoted?” They said “We found our fathers worshiping them.” He said: “Indeed you and your fathers have been in manifest error.” They said: “Have you brought us the truth, or are you one of those who play about?” He said: “Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who created them and of that I am one of the witnesses.”» Surah 21: 52-56
All was finished between Abraham and his people and the struggle began. The most amazed and furious was his father (or his uncle who had raised him), for, as it is well known, he not only worshiped idols but sculptured and sold them as well. Abraham felt that it was his duty as a good son to advise his father against this evil so that he could be saved from Allah’s punishment.
Being a wise son, he did not make his father feel foolish, nor did he openly laugh at his conduct. He told him that he loved him, thereby hoping to generate fatherly love. Then he gently asked him why he worshiped lifeless idols who could not hear, see, or protect him. Before his father could become angry he hastily added: «”O my father! Verily! There has come to me of knowledge that which came not unto you-. So follow me. I will guide you to a Straight Path. O my father! Worship not Satan. Verily! Satan has been a rebel against the Most Beneficent (Allah). O my father! Verily! I fear lest a torment from the Most Beneficent (Allah) overtake you, so that you become a companion of Satan (in the Hell-Fire).”
He (the father) said: ‘Do you reject my gods, O Abraham? If you stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you.” Abraham said: “Peace be on you! I will ask Forgiveness of my Lord for you. Verily! He is unto me, Ever Most Gracious. And I shall turn away from you and from those whom you invoke besides Allah.» Surah 19: 43-48
His father’s harsh treatment did not stop Abraham from delivering the message of truth. Angry and sad to see people prostrate before idols, he was determined to stamp out these practices and went to the town to debate with the people, knowing full well that he might suffer harm.
Like a wise doctor searching for the cause of a sickness so as to prescribe the proper cure, or like a judge who questions the accused sharply so that he might detect the truth, Abraham asked them: “Do the idols see you when you prostrate before them? Do they benefit you in any way?” They quickly tried to defend their beliefs. They argued that they knew their idols were lifeless but that their forefathers had worshiped them; to them this was proof enough for their belief.
Abraham explained that their forefathers had been wrong. This angered them and they retorted: “Are you condemning our gods and our forefathers? Or are you just joking?”
Abraham showed no fear as he replied: “I am serious. I come to you with a true religion. I have been sent with guidance from our Lord Who alone is worthy of worship, Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and Who regulates all affairs of life, unlike the dumb idols which are just stone and wood.”
To convince them that the idols could not harm him, he challenged: “I have already condemned them; if they had any power they would have harmed me by now!”
Almighty Allah recounted: «And recite to them the story of Abraham. When he said to his father and his people: “What do you worship?” They said: ‘We worship idols, and to them we are ever devoted.” He said: “Do they hear you, when you call (on them)? Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?” They said: “Nay, but we found our fathers doing so.”
He said: “Do you observe that which you been worshiping, -You and your ancient fathers?- Verily! They are enemies to me, save the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists); Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; and it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me; and Who will cause me to die and then will bring me to life (again); and Who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of Recompense, (the Day of Resurrection).”» Surah 26: 69-82
In another surah The Almighty revealed: «And (remember) Abraham when he said to his people: “Worship Allah (Alone), and fear Him, that is better for you if you did but know. You worship besides Allah only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allah have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allah (Alone), and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back. And if you deny, then nations before you have denied (their Messengers). And the duty of the Messenger is only to convey (the Message) plainly.”
See they not how Allah originates creation, then will repeat it. Verily, that is easy for Allah.
Say: “Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated creation, and then Allah will bring forth (resurrect) the creation of the Hereafter (i.e., resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”
He punishes whom He wills, and shows mercy to whom He wills, and to Him you will be returned. And you cannot escape in the earth or in the heaven. And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (Protector or Guardian) nor any Helper. And those who disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and the Meeting with Him, – it is they who have no hope of My Mercy, and it is they who will have a painful torment.»Surah 22: 16-23
He explained to them the beauty of Allah’s creation, His power and wisdom. Idol worship is detested by Allah, for Allah is the Lord of the universe Who created mankind, guided him, provided him with food and drink, and cured him when he was sick, and Who will cause him to die and be raised up again. It was He to Whom Abraham prayed and Who would forgive his sins on the Day of Judgment. However, they would not give up but clung fast to idolatry.
Abraham left his father’s house and abandoned his people and what they worshiped. He decided 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 ax. 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: “The food in front of you is getting cold. Why don’t you eat?” The statue kept silent and rigid. Abraham asked the other statues around him: «’Will you not eat (of the offering before you)?”»Surah 37:91
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 speak not?”» Surah 37:92
He then raised his ax and started smashing the false gods worshiped by the people. He destroyed them all except one, on whose neck he hung the ax. After this his anger subsided 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 worshiping something other than Allah.
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.
Allah the Almighty said: «They said: “Who has done this to our ‘aliah (gods)? He must indeed be one of the wrong-doers.” They said: “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: “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 wrong-doers).” 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 Allah, things that can neither profit you, nor harm you? Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense?”» Surah 21: 59-67
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.
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 worshiping these lifeless objects.
They then realised the senselessness of their beliefs; however, their arrogance would not allow them to admit their foolishness. All they could do was 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 tied. The fire was ready with its flames 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 a descent on steps in a cool garden. The flames were still there, but they did not burn, for Allah the Almighty had issued His command: «”O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham.”» Surah 21:69
The fire submitted to the will of Allah, 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 Allah the Almighty, with a heart that contained only his love for Allah. 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 Allah as Abraham did do not fear.
Almighty Allah declared: «Those (i.e., 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: “Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).”
So they returned with Grace and Bounty from Allah. No harm touched them; and they followed the good Pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty. It is only Satan that suggests to you the fear of his Auliya’ [supporters and friends (polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad)], so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers.”» Surah 3: 173-175
The throng, the chiefs, and the priests sat 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 disbelievers 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 Allah. 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.» Surah 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 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 idolators. 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 now challenged by an ordinary human being. He summoned Abraham to the palace and held a dialogue with him, which Allah the Almighty recounted: « Have you not thought about him who disputed with Abraham about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Abraham said (to him): “My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death.” He said: “I give life and cause death.” Abraham said: “Verily! Allah causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it to you to rise from the west.” So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimeen (wrong-doers, etc.) Surah 2:258
Abraham’s fame spread throughout the entire kingdom. Prophet 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 Allah, 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 if his people shared his belief in Allah. the woman’s name was Sarah and she became his wife. The man’s name was Lot (Lut), and he became a Prophet.
When Abraham realised that no one else was going to believe in his call, he decided to emigrate. He left his people and travelled wit his wife and Lot to a city called Ur, then to another called Haram, and then to Palestine.
Allah the Almighty told us: « So Lot 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.”» Surah 29:26
After Palestine, Abraham travelled to Egypt, calling people to believe in Allah wherever he travelled, judging fairly between people, and judging them to truth and righteousness.
Abu Hurairah narrated that Abraham (PBUH) did not tell a lie except on three occasions, twice for the sake of Allah (Exalted and almighty) when he said: “I am sick,” 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 (i.e., Abraham (PBUH) 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 and 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 hold her with his hand, but (his hand got stiff and) he was confounded. He asked Sarah: “Pray to Allah for me, and I shall not harm you.” So Sarah asked Allah 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 confounded. He again requested Sarah: “Pray to Allah for me, and I will not harm you.” Sarah asked Allah 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. Sarah came back (to Abraham) while he was praying. Abraham, gesturing with his hand, asked: “What has happened?” She replied: “Allah 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 (i.e., the 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 after many years spent in calling people to Allah. Sarah thought that 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 lived on earth worshiping Allah and calling people to monotheism, but he was journeying to Allah, 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, love, and certitude.
One day, he begged Allah to show him how He brought the dead back to life. Allah commanded Abraham to take four birds, cut them up, mingle their body parts, divide them into four portions, and place them on top of four different hills, then call back the birds in Allah’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 Allah revealed: «And (remember) when Abraham said: “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” Allah said: “Do you not believe?” Abraham said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then 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 Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”» Surah 2: 260 .
The Story of Abraham (Ibrahim), Ishmael (Isma’il), Isaac (Ishaaq), and Jacob (Yaqub) (Peace be upon them):
Section Two- The Story of Ishmael (Peace be upon him)
One day, Abraham woke up and asked his wife Hajar to get her son and prepare for a long journey. In a few days, Abraham started out with his wife Hajar and their son Ishmael. The child was still nursing and not yet weaned.
Abraham walked through cultivated land, desert, and mountains until he reached the desert of the Arabian Peninsula and came to an uncultivated valley having no fruit, no trees, no food, no water. The valley had no sign of life. After Abraham had helped his wife and child to dismount, he left them with a small amount of food and water which was hardly enough for two days. He turned around and walked away. His wife hurried after him asking: “Where are you going, Abraham, leaving us in this barren valley?”
Abraham did not answer her, but continued walking. She repeated what she had said, but he remained silent. Finally, she understood that he was not acting on his own initiative. She realised that Allah had commanded him to do this. She asked him: “Did Allah command you to do so?” He replied: “Yes.” Then his great wife said: “We are not going to be lost, since Allah, Who has commanded you, is with us.”
Abraham invoked Almighty Allah thus: « “O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred House (the Ka’ba at Mecca); in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. O our Lord! Certainly, You know what we conceal and what we reveal. Nothing on the earth or in the heaven is hidden from Allah.”» Surah 14: 37-38
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: “The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah [by dragging it]. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael, while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water so he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates and a small water-skin containing some water and set out homeward. Ishmael’s mother followed him saying: ‘O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?’ She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him: ‘Has Allah ordered you to do so?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ She said: ‘Then He will not neglect us,’ and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards. On reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers: «”O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Ka’ba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.”» Surah 14: 37.38
Ibn ‘Abbas’s narration continued: “Ishmael’s mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had). When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony. She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of As-Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from As-Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the mountain of Al-Marwa. There she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times.”
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “This is the source of the tradition of the Sa’y the going of people between them (i.e. As-Safa and Al-Marwa). When she reached Al-Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said: ‘O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?’ And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing) till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it.”
The Prophet (PBUH) added: “May Allah bestow mercy on Ishmael’s mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.”
The Prophet (PBUH) continued: “Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her: ‘Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.’ The House (i.e. Ka’ba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left.
“She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada’. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said: ‘This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.’ They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water). Ishmael’s mother was sitting near the water. They asked her: ‘Do you allow us to stay with you?’ She replied: ‘Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed to that. Ishmael’s mother was pleased with the whole situation, as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families, who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learned Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.”
The Prophet (PBUH) continued: “After Ishmael’s mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael’s marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael’s wife about him, she replied: ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied: ‘We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,’ complaining to him. He said, ‘When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).’
“When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife: ‘Has anyone visited you?’ She replied: ‘Yes, an old man of such-and-such description came and asked me about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.’ On that Ishmael said: ‘Did he advise you anything?’ She replied: ‘Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.’ Ishmael said: ‘It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.’ So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from among them (i.e. Jurhum).
“Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael’s wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said: ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Abraham asked her: ‘How are you getting on?’ asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied: ‘We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).’ Then she thanked Allah. Abraham said: ‘What kind of food do you eat?’ She said: ‘Meat.’ He said: ‘What do you drink?’ She said: Water.’ He said: ‘O Allah! Bless their meat and water.”
The Prophet (PBUH) added: “At that time they did not have grain, and if they had had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it. If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca.”
The Prophet (PBUH) continued: “Then Abraham said to Ishmael’s wife: ‘When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.’ When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife: ‘Did anyone call on you?’ She replied: ‘Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,’ so she praised him and added: ‘He asked about you and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.’ Ishmael asked her: ‘Did he give you any piece of advice?’ She said: ‘Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.’ On that Ishmael said: ‘It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.’
“Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near Zam-Zam, sharpening his arrows.
When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father). Abraham said: ‘O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.’ Ishmael said: ‘Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.’ Abraham asked: ‚Will you help me?’ Ishmael said: ‘I will help you.’ Abraham said: ‘Allah has ordered me to build a house here,’ pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it.
“Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka’ba). Ishmael brought the stones while Abraham built, and when the walls became high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham, who stood over it and carried on building. While Ishmael was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying: «”O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”» Surah 2: 127. The Prophet (PBUH) added: “Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka’ba saying: «”O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”» Sahih Al-Bikhari
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated a slightly different version: “When Abraham had differences with his wife (because of her jealousy of Hajar, Ishmael’s mother), he took Ishmael and his mother and went away. They had a water-skin with them containing some water. Ishmael’s mother used to drink water from the water-skin so that her milk would increase for her child. When Abraham reached Mecca, he made her sit under a tree and afterwards returned home.
Ishmael’s mother followed him, and when they reached Kada’, she called him from behind: ‘O Abraham! To whom are you leaving us?’ He replied: ‘(I am leaving you) to Allah’s (care).’ She said: ‘I am satisfied to be with Allah.’ She returned to her place and started drinking water from the water-skin, and her milk increased for her child.
“When the water had all been used up, she said to herself: ‘I had better go and look so that I may see somebody.’ She ascended As-Safa Mountain and looked, hoping to see somebody, but in vain. When she came down to the valley, she ran till she reached Al-Marwa Mountain. She ran to and from (between the two mountains) many times. Then she said to herself: ‘I had better go and see the state of the child.’ She went and found it in a state of one on the point of dying. She could not endure to watch it dying and said (to herself): ‘If I go and look, I may find somebody.’ She went and ascended Al-Safa mountain and looked for a long while but could not find anybody. Thus she completed seven rounds (of running) between As-Safa and Al-Marwa. Again she said (to herself): ‘I had better go back and see the state of the child.’ But suddenly she heard a voice, and she said to that strange voice: ‘Help us if you can offer any help.’ Lo! It was Gabriel (who had made the voice). Gabriel hit the earth with his heel like this (Ibn ‘Abbas hit the earth with his heel to illustrate it), and so the water gushed out. Ishmael’s mother was astonished and started digging.”
Abu Al-Qasim, i.e. the Prophet, (PBUH) said: “If she had left the water, (flow naturally without her intervention), it would have been flowing on the surface of the earth.”
Ibn ‘Abbas continued narrating: “Ishmael’s mother started drinking from the water, and her milk increased for her child. Afterwards some people of the tribe of Jurhum saw some birds while passing through the bottom of the valley and that astonished them. They said: “Birds can only be found at a place where there is water.” They sent a messenger, who searched the place and found the water, and returned to inform them about it. Then they all went to her and said: “O Ishmael’s mother! Will you allow us to be with you (or dwell with you)?” (And thus they stayed there.)
“Later on her boy reached the age of puberty and married a lady from them. Then an idea occurred to Abraham, which he disclosed to his wife (Sarah). ‘I want to call on my dependents I left (at Mecca).’ When he went there he greeted (Ishmael’s wife) and said: ‘Where is Ishmael?’ She replied: ‘He has gone out hunting.’ Abraham said (to her): ‘When he comes, tell him to change the threshold of his gate.’ When Ishmael came, she told him the same, whereupon Ishmael said to her: ‘You are the threshold, so go to your family (i.e. you are divorced).’
“Again Abraham thought of visiting his dependents whom he had left (at Mecca), and he told his wife (Sarah) of his intentions. Abraham came to Ishmael’s house and asked: ‘Where is Ishmael?’ Ishmael’s wife replied: ‘He has gone out hunting,’ and added: ‘Will you stay (for some time) and have something to eat and drink?’ Abraham asked: ‘What is your food and what is your drink?’ She replied: ‘Our food is meat and our drink is water.’ He said: ‘O Allah! Bless their meals and their drink.’
Abu Al-Qasim, i.e. Prophet, (PBUH) said: “Because of Abraham’s invocation there are blessings (in Mecca).”
Ibn ‘Abbas continued: “Once more Abraham thought of visiting his family he had left (at Mecca), so he told his wife (Sarah) of his decision. He went and found Ishmael behind the Zam-zam well, mending his arrows. He said: ‘O Ishmael, your Lord has ordered me to build a house for Him.’ Ishmael said: ‘Obey (the order of) your Lord.’ Abraham said: ‘Allah has also ordered me that you should help me therein.’ Ishmael said: ‘Then I will do so.’ So both of them rose and Abraham started building (the Ka’ba) while Ishmael went on handing him the stones, and both of them were saying: «”O our Lord! Accept (this service) of us, verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”» Surah 2: 127. When the building became high and the old man (i.e. Abraham) could no longer lift the stones (to such a high position), he stood over the stone of Al-Maqam and Ishmael carried on handing him the stones, and both of them were saying: «”O our Lord! Accept (this service) of us, verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”»”
Allah the Almighty told us of Abraham’s affliction with his beloved son: «And he said (after his rescue from the fire): “Verily, I am going to my Lord. He will guide me! My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous.” So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.
And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what do you think!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’ Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of the patient.”
Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah) and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); and We called out to him: “O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!” Verily! Thus do We reward those who perform good deeds totally for Allah’s sake only. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial -and We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram); and We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. “Salaamun (peace) be upon Abraham!” Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsineen (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves.» Surah 37: 99-111
Time passed. One day Abraham was sitting outside his tent, thinking of his son Ishmael and Allah’s sacrifice. His heart was filled with awe and love for Allah for His countless blessings. A big tear dropped from his eyes and reminded him of Ishmael.
In the meantime, three angels descended to the earth: Gabriel, Israphael, and Michael. They came in human shape and saluted Abraham. Abraham arose and welcomed them. He took them inside his tent, thinking they were strangers and guests. He seated them and made sure that they were comfortable, then excused himself to go to his people.
His wife Sarah arose when he entered. She had become old and white-haired. Abraham said to her: “We have three strangers in the house.” “Who are they?” she asked. “I do not know any of them,” he answered. “What food have we got?” Abraham asked. “Half a sheep,” she replied. “Half a sheep! Slaughter a fat calf for them; they are strangers and guests,” he ordered while leaving.
The servants roasted and served a calf. Abraham invited the angels to eat, and he started eating so as to encourage them. He continued, but when he glanced at his guests to assure they were eating, he noticed that none of them had touched the food. He said to them: “Are you not going to eat?” He resumed eating, but when he glanced at them again he found that they were still not eating. Their hands did not reach out for the food. He began to fear them.
Abraham’s fears increased. The angels, however, were reading his inner thoughts and one of them said: “Do not fear.” Abraham raised his head and replied: “Indeed, I am in fear. I have asked you to eat food, but you do not stretch out your hands to eat. Do you intend me evil?”
One of the angels smiled and said: “We do not eat. We are Allah’s angels.” One of them then turned towards his wife and conveyed the glad tidings about Isaac (Ishaaq).
Almighty Allah revealed: «And verily, there came Our Messengers to Abraham with glad tidings. They said: “Salaam (greetings or peace)!” He answered: “Salaam (greetings or peace)” and he hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards it (the meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: “Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lot.” And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people of Lot). But We gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob.
She said (in astonishment): “Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I am an old woman, and here is my husband, an old man? Verily! This is a strange thing!” They said: “Do you wonder at the Decree of Allah? The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, O the family (of Abraham). Surely, He (Allah) is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.”» Surah 11: 69-73
The Story of Abraham (Ibrahim), Ishmael (Isma’il), Isaac (Ishaaq), and Jacob (Yaqub) (Peace be upon them):
Section Three – The Story of Isaac (Ishaaq) and Jacob (Yaqub) (Peace be upon them)
The Qur’an does not give details of Isaac’s life (PBUH), but reliable Qur’anic commentators mentioned that when Abraham felt that his life was drawing to a close, he wished to see Isaac married. He did not want Isaac to marry one of the Canaanites, who were pagans, so he sent a trustworthy servant to Haran in Iraq to choose a bride for Isaac. The servant’s choice fell on Rebekah Bint Bethuel, Ibn Nahor, who was a brother of Abraham. Isaac married her and she gave birth to a set of twins, Esau (Al-Eis) and Jacob (Yaqub).
Ill feelings developed between the two brothers when they grew into manhood. Esau disliked the fact that Jacob was favoured by his father and by Allah with Prophethood. This ill-feeling became so serious that Esau threatened to kill his brother. Fearing for his life, Jacob fled the country.
The People of the Book said that when Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, Bint Bethuel, during his father’s life. They said she was sterile, so Isaac prayed to Allah and then she became pregnant. She gave birth to twin boys. The first one was called Esau whom the Arabs call Al-Eis. He became the father of Rum. The second one was called Jacob, which means Israel (belonging to the people of Israel).
The People of the Book claimed that when Isaac (PBUH) grew old and his eye-sight had weakened, he had a desire for food, so he asked his son Esau to go hunting and bring him some cooked game. Esau asked him to bless the food and pray for him. Esau, a hunter, went out to get his father the meat. Rebekah, overhearing this, ordered her son Jacob to slaughter two goats of his best flock and cook them as his father liked and bring it to him before his brother returned. She dressed Jacob in his brother’s clothes and put goat skin on his arms and neck, for Esau was hairy while Jacob was not.
When he approached his father with the food, his father asked: “Who are you?” Jacob answered: “I am your son.” When his father finished eating, he prayed for his son to be the more blessed brother and to prevail over them and all people, and for Allah to sustain him and his children.
When he left his father, his brother Esau, who had carried out his father’s command, entered. Isaac asked him: “What is this, my son?” He answered: “This is the food you like.” Isaac said: “Did you bring it an hour ago and ask me to pray for you?” Esau answered: “No, I swear I did not,” and he knew his brother had preceded him in this matter and he was sick at heart.
The People of the Book said that Esau threatened to kill his brother when their father was dead. They also said that he asked his father to pray for him that Allah make the earth good for his offspring and multiply his sustenance and fruits.
When their mother knew that Esau threatened his brother Jacob, she commanded her son Jacob to go to her brother Laban in the land of Haran and abide with him for a time until his brother’s anger had abated, and to marry one of Laban’s daughters. She told her husband Isaac to command him with that advice and pray for him, and he did.
Jacob (PBUH) left his family. When night came he found a place to rest. He took a stone and put it under his head and slept. He dreamed of a ladder from heaven to earth. Angels were ascending and descending and the Lord addressed him and said to him: “I will bless you and your offspring and make this land for you and for those who come after you.”
When he awoke he felt joyful from what he had seen in his dream and vowed, for Allah’s sake, that if he returned to his family safely, he would build here a temple for Allah the Almighty. He also vowed to give one tenth of his property for the sake of Allah. He poured oil on the stone so as to recognise it and called the place “Ayle’s House” (Bethel), which means “House of Allah.” It was to be the location of Jerusalem later.
The People of the Book also said that when Jacob came to his maternal uncle in the land of Haran, his uncle had two daughters. The elder one was called Leah (Lia) and the younger one was Rachel (Rahil). The latter was the better and lovelier of the two. His uncle agreed to marry his daughter to him on the condition that Jacob pasture his sheep for seven years.
After a period of time, his uncle prepared a feast and gathered people for the wedding. He married Leah, his elder daughter, to him at night. She was weak-sighted and ugly. When morning came, Jacob discovered that she was Leah and he complained to his uncle: “You deceived me; I was engaged to Rachel and you married me to Leah.” His uncle said: “It is not our tradition to marry the younger daughter before the elder daughter. However, if you love her sister, work another seven years and I will marry you to both of them.”
Jacob worked for seven years and then married Rachel. It was acceptable in their time, as described in the Torah, for a man to marry two sisters. Laban gave a female slave to each daughter. Leah’s slave was called Zilpah and Rachel’s slave was called Bilha.
Almighty Allah compensated Leah’s weakness by giving her sons. The first one was named Reuben (Robel), after whom there were Simeon (Shamun), Levi (Lawi), and Judah (Yahudh). Rachel felt jealous of Leah’s having sons, as she was barren. She gave her slave Bilha to her husband and he had relations with her until she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and named him Naphtali.
Leah was vexed that Rachel’s slave had given birth to a son, so she, in turn, gave her slave Zilpah to Jacob (PBUH). Zilpah gave birth to two sons, Gad and Asher. Then Leah got pregnant and gave birth to her fifth son, Isssachar, and later she gave birth to a sixth son, Zebulun. After this Leah gave birth to a daughter named Dinah. Thus, Leah had seven sons from Jacob.
Then Rachel prayed to Allah to give her a son from Jacob. Allah heard her call and responded to her prayer. She gave birth to a son, great, honorable, and beautiful. She named him Joseph (Yusuf).
All of this happened when they were in the land of Haran and Jacob (PBUH) was pasturing his uncle’s sheep, which he did for a period of twenty years.
Jacob then asked his uncle Laban to let him go and visit his family. His uncle said to him: “I have been blessed because of you; ask for whatever money you need.” Jacob said: “Give me each spotted and speckled goat born this year and each black lamb.”
But at Laban’s command his sons removed their father’s goats that were striped, spotted or speckled, and the black lambs, lest others should be born with those traits. They walked for three days with their father’s goats and sheep while Jacob tended the remaining flock.
The People of the Book said that Jacob (PBUH) took fresh rods of poplar, almond and plane. He peeled streaks in them and cast them into the water troughs for the goats to look at. The young inside their abdomens were terrified and moved and they were born striped, spotted, or speckled. When the sheep were breeding, he set their faces towards the black sheep in Laban’s flock and put the rods among them. Their lambs were born black. This was considered an example of supernatural powers, a miracle. Jacob had many goats, sheep, beast and slaves. His uncle and his sons faces changed as if they (the sheep and goats) had been stolen from them.
Allah the Almighty inspired Jacob to return to the country of his father and people, and He promised to stand by him. Jacob told his family that, and they responded and obeyed him. Jacob did not tell Laban of his plans, however, and left without bidding farewell.
Upon leaving, Rachel stole her father’s idols. After Jacob and his people had fled for his country, Laban and his people followed them. When Laban met with Jacob, he blamed him for leaving him without his knowledge. He would have liked to know so that he could have made them leave with celebration and joy, with drums and songs, and so that he could have bidden his daughters and sons farewell. And why had they taken his idols with them?
Jacob had no knowledge of his idols, so he denied that he had taken them from him. Then Laban entered the tents of his daughters and slaves to search, but he found nothing, for Rachel had put the idols in the camel saddle under her. She did not get up, apologizing that she had her menses. Thus, he could not perceive what they had done-.
Then they sat on a hill called Galeed and made a covenant there. Jacob would not ill-treat Laban’s daughters nor marry others. Neither Laban nor Jacob would pass the hill into the other’s country. They cooked food and their people ate with them. Each bade the other farewell as they departed, each returning to his own country.
When Jacob approached the land of Seir, the angels greeted him. He sent a messenger ahead with greetings to his brother Esau, asking forgiveness and humbling himself before him. The messenger returned greetings and told Jacob that Esau was riding towards him with four hundred men.
This made Jacob afraid and he entreated and prayed to Allah Almighty. He prostrated in humiliation and asked Him to fulfill His promise which He had made before. He asked Him to stop the evil of his brother Esau. Then Jacob (PBUH) prepared a great present for his brother: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty much camels, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.
He commanded his slaves to take the animals, each drove by itself, and pass on ahead of him with a space between the droves. He instructed them: “When you meet my brother Esau he will ask you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going?’ You shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present to my master Esau. Moreover, he is behind us.”
Jacob stayed behind with his two wives, his slaves and his children for two nights, then continued walking by night and resting by day.
When the dawn of the second day came one of the angels appeared in the shape of a man. Jacob began to wrestle with him. They were neck and neck until the angel injured his thigh and Jacob became lame. When the day was breaking, the angel said to him: “What is your name?” He answered: “Jacob.” The angel said: “After today you shall not be called (anything) but Israel.” Jacob asked: “And who are you? What is your name?” He vanished. Then Jacob knew that he was one of the angels. Jacob was lame, and for this reason the children of Israel do not eat the thigh muscle on the hip socket.
Jacob raised his eyes and saw his brother Esau coming. Jacob prostrated seven times before him, for it was their salutation in that time. It was lawful for them just as the angels had prostrated in salutation to Adam.
When Esau saw him, he ran towards him, embraced and kissed him and wept. When Esau raised his eyes and saw the women and children, he asked: “Who are these with you?” Jacob answered: “Those whom Allah has given me, your servant.” Leah, Rachel, their slaves, and all the children approached and prostrated before him. Jacob asked Esau to accept his gift and insisted until he did so.
Esau returned and went in advance before him. Jacob and his family followed with the flocks and herds and slaves to the mountains (Seir).
When he came to Succoth (Sahur), he built a house for himself and shades for his beasts. Then he passed by Jerusalem, the village of Shechem, and camped before the village. He bought a farm from Shechem Ibn Hamor with one hundred goats and built an altar, which he called Ayl, as Allah commanded him. He built the altar where Jerusalem stands today and later Solomon son of David (PBUT) rebuilt it. It is in the place of the stone which he had earlier anointed with oil, as was mentioned before.
The People of the Book tell a story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah. Shechem Ibn Hamor seized her and lay with her by force. Then he asked her father and brothers to let him marry her. Her brothers said: “Circumcise, all of you, and we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves; but we do not marry with uncircumcised people.” They (the men of the city) agreed to that, and all of them were circumcised. When the third day came and the pain from the circumcision had increased, Jacob’s sons approached and killed them till the last one. They killed Shechem and his father for the evil they had committed against them and for their worship of idols. That is why Jacob’s sons killed them and seized their money as spoils.
Then Rachel got pregnant and gave birth to a son, Benjamin, but she had a hard labor and died after delivery. Jacob buried her in Ephrath (Afrath). The tomb of Rachel is there till the present day.
Jacob’s sons were twelve men. From Leah there were Reuben (Robil), Simeon (Shamun), Levi (Lawi), Judah (Yahudh), Issachar (Isakher), and Zebulun (Zablun). From Rachel there were Joseph (PBUH) and Benjamin. From Rachel’s slave there were Dan and Naphtali (Neftali), and from Leah’s slave there were Gad and Asher.
Jacob came to his father Isaac and settled with him in the village of Hebron which lies in the land of Canaan where Abraham had lived. Then Isaac fell ill and died when he was one hundred eighty years old. His sons Esau and Jacob, buried him with his father Abraham Al-Khalil in a cave which he had bought. It was said that Abraham died at the age of one hundred seventy-five.
Allah the Almighty declared in the Glorious Qur’an: «And who turns away from the religion of Abraham (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) except him who befools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world and verily, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous.
When his Lord said to him: “Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!” He said: “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).”
And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was unjoined by Abraham upon his sons and by Jacob, (saying): “O my Sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam (as Muslims – Islamic Monotheism).”
Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob? When he said unto his sons: “What will you worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship your Ilah (God -Allah) the Ilah (God) of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, One Ilah (God), and to Him we submit (in Islam).”
That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.
And they say: “Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided.” Say (to them, O Muhammad): “Nay, (we follow) only the religion of Abraham, Hanifan [Islamic Monotheism, i.e. to worship none but Allah (Alone),] and he was not of Al-Mushrikeen (those who worshiped others along with Allah.)”
Say (O Muslims): “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and to Al-Asbat (the twelve sons of Jacob), and that which has been given to Moses and Jesus, and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam).”
So if they believe in the like of that which you believe, then they are rightly guided, but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice you against them. And he is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.
[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (religion) of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allah’s. And we are His worshipers.
Say (O Muhammad, to the Jews and Christians): “Dispute you with us about Allah while He is our Lord and your Lord? And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him in worship and obedience (i.e. we worship Him Alone and none else, and we obey His Orders.).” Or say you that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Al-Asbat (the twelve Sons of Jacob) were Jews or Christians? Say: “Do you know better or does Allah (know better . . . that they all were Muslims)? And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony [i.e. to believe in Prophet Muhammad when he comes, written in their books] he has from Allah? And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”» Surah 2: 130-140
In another surah Almighty Allah declared: «O People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Why do you dispute about Abraham, while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have you then no sense? Verily, you are those who have disputed about that of which you have knowledge. Why do you then dispute concerning that which you have no knowledge? It is Allah Who knows, and you know not.
Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism, – to worship none but Allah Alone) and he was not of the polytheists (i.e. he joined none in worship with Allah).
Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad) and those who have believed (Muslims). And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers. » Surah 3: 65-68
Allah the Exalted also affirmed: «Then, verily! Your Lord- for those who do evil (commit sins and are disobedient to Allah) in ignorance and afterward repent and do righteous deeds, verily, your Lord thereafter, (to such) is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Verily, Abraham was an Ummah (a leader having all the good righteous qualities, or a nation), obedient to Allah, Hanifan (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not one of those who were Al-Mushrikeen (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and those who joined partners with Allah). (He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) Graces. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to a Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism, neither Judaism or Christianity). And We gave him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he shall be of the righteous.
Then, We have inspired you (O Muhammad saying): “Follow the religion of Abraham Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism – to worship none but Allah) and he was not of the Mushrikeen (i.e. polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad, those who worship others along with Allah or set up rivals with (or partners to) Allah.]”» Surah 16: 119-123
The Advent of Ibrahim:
Long ago Almighty Allah gave the honour of His choice to a man called Ibrahim. He became the Prophet. His native Mesopotamia is the present southern ‘Iraq. He was an ideal model for mankind. Speaking highly of him the Holy Qur’an says:
“Ibrahim was indeed a paragon of virtue, obedient to Allah, ever inclined to Him and he was not of those who set up equals to Allah. He was ever grateful for His favours, We chose him and guided him to a straight path; and We bestowed on him good in this world and in the Hereafter, he will surely be among the righteous.” (16: 121-123)
His Nation was Staunch Worshippers of Idols:
In the days of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) ignorance prevailed upon the minds of the people. Most of the people had no knowledge of Allah and His teachings. They worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars. They were astronomers and maintained the records of the movements of the planets. They prayed to the idols made of wood and stone and made many offerings for them. The priests enjoyed a prominent place in the society. They commanded respect among their followers. They were paid well. The poor people were ruled by the chiefs. They were subjected to their cruelty and injustice.
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was the son of Terah whose surname Adhar was popularly known. He was a doll carver and a staunch worshipper of idols. He did all he could to compel Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to worship the handicrafts of man but flatly refused to do so. He hated even an idea of worshipping the idols which could neither see, nor hear, nor speak.
The Prophet Ibrahim’s Preaching:
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) received the message of Allah through a special angel Gabriel (Jibra’il). Gradually he was commanded to start preaching. As he was a strong man in his will and determination, he worked very hard. He began his mission in the teeth of opposition. He argued with his people with great vigour regarding the folly of worshipping the idols. The Holy Qur’an says:
“When he said to his father and his people: What are these images to which you are so devoted ? They replied: We found our fathers worshipping them. He said: Then you as well as your fathers have indeed, been in manifest error. They said: Is it really the truth that you have brought for us or are you jesting ? He replied: Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth; He brought them into existence and I am of those who bear witness to this, and by Allah, I will certainly plan against your idols after you have gone away and turned your backs.” (21: 53-58)
Opposition by the People and Discussion with the King:
The people paid no heed to his teachings. They insisted on their ways. They did not refrain from worshipping the twinkling stars, shining moon and ugly idols. The priests kept on encouraging the people to disbelieve in the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). They were afraid lest they should be deprived of their priesthood if the people abandoned idol-worship. As a matter of fact the king Nemrùd in that area thought himself to be god. He had a big castle and many soldiers at his disposal. He desired to argue with the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) one day. They met to hold discussions: The king looked at the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) mockingly for a while. Then he said: What is this thing you are calling the people for? Why do you persuade the People to worship God Who is invisible? The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) replied boldly: My God is the One: Who gives and takes away life. Nemrud answered arrogantly: I have also the power to do that. I can kill the persons and can spare them also. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) asked a clever question that caught every one by surprise. He said: My God causes the sun to rise from the East and set it in the West. Can you make it come from the east? On hearing the king remained silent because he knew that no man had the power to do so.
Breakage of the Idols:
After a few days a special event took place. There was a grand ceremony outside the locality and every one had to participate in the celebrations. Most of the evil-doers drank; liquor and became noisy and wild. They were losing their balance of mind in a state of intoxication. There was a great hustle. Almost every one from the town attended the ceremony except the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). He had a special plan in his mind. He proceeded towards the Temple escaping the sight of others. When he entered the Temple, he saw there many statues which stood motionless and helpless.
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) lifted his heavy axe and began to smite the idols turn by turn. The idols fell to the ground with a big thud. The floor was loaded with numerous noses, ears, heads, arms, legs and other parts of the idols. He broke all the idols in the sanctuary but spared the Chief one. He did so to demonstrate that the idols had no power to cause harm to any one or bestow benefits upon others. They were as helpless as mere stones and it is against the dignity of human beings to pay homage to them. When the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) finished his job, he left the Temple cautiously making sure that no one had seen him.
Decision to Burn Ibrahim Alive:
When the celebrations came to an end, the people returned. The priests went directly towards the Temple as usual and some people accompanied them. They saw that the idols were smashed to pieces. The floor was littered with stones and the Chief idol was standing with an axe hanging down along its neck. The priests began to scream and became confused. The people rushed to the Temple on hearing a deafening hue and cry. Every one was in a furious mood. They wanted to know who had dared do this trouble to the idols. They wished to take revenge. Then some one said that the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) would have done so because he consistently spoke ill of our gods and advised the people to worship One God. The Holy Qur’an relates:
“Then he broke them into pieces except the Chief of them that haply they may return to him. They said: Who has done so to our gods? Most surely he is one of the evil-doers. We heard a youth called Ibrahim making mention of them.” (21:57)
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was summoned to appear before the king. When he came, he was asked if he had destroyed all those idols. He remained silent for a while. Afterwards he directed the king to ask the chief idol on whose neck was hung the axe with which the havoc was done. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was mocking and making fun of those stupid people who worshipped helpless, dumb and deaf idols made of stones. The king as well as the priests did not like to prolong their discussions because the arguments of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) were very sound and convincing. The Holy Qur’an relates:
“Then they said to Ibrahim: Is it you who has done so to our gods? He replied: Well, some one has surely done this. Here is the chief of them, so ask them if they can speak. Then they turned towards one another and said: You yourselves are surely in the wrong. Then they were made to hung down their heads out of shame and said to Ibrahim: Certainly you know that they do not speak.” (21: 65-68). Although they felt ashamed yet they remained stubborn. They decided to burn the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) alive for causing destruction to their idols.
Fire does not Burn The Prophet Ibrahim:
A big furnace was prepared for this purpose. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was tied with a rope and he could hardly move. He was quite calm and cheerful believing firmly that Allah would save him. He did not even resist and the spectators were amazed at his attitude.
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was thrown in the centre of the furnace. The flames of the fire were blazing. They sizzled and hissed but the Almighty Allah ordered the fire not to harm His friend Ibrahim (peace be upon him):
“We said: 0′ fire! Be thou a means of comfort and security for Ibrahim.” (21:70)
The transgressors thought that the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) had burnt to death. They did not hear the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) shouting with pain. Some time later the people saw the prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) walking out of the fire safe as if nothing had touched him. They were much surprised to see him.
Migration to Palestine:
In spite of this miracle the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) could not have a large number of people following his teachings. He went on preaching and underwent a chain of tests and trials to prove his obedience and sincerity. When his people tortured the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), he was ordered to leave that area and go to the blessed land which is now called Palestine. In compliance with the Commandment of Almighty Allah the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) did not lose a moment’s rest without getting in touch with the people and teaching them about God and His message. Nothing seemed to discourage him.
Birth of the Prophet Isma’il and Migration to Mecca:
As the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) had no off-spring from his first wife Sarah, he entered into matrimonial alliance with another woman called Hajira (Hagar). He prayed for a son in all sublimity and his prayer was granted. Some time later Hajira announced happy news that she was expecting a baby. As time passed she gave birth to Isma’il (Ishmael). Soon after God ordered the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to take his wife Hajira and the Prophet Isma’il(peace be upon him) to the valley of Bathã (Mecca). In accordance with the Divine Commandment he set out on a long and troublesome journey. They arrived at the spot after a long time. It was hilly area without any trees and water. They set up their tents and looked around but nothing was visible except sand. The Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) had attained the age of a few months only when the event of migration took place. He began to cry because of thirst. His mother began to look for water but it was not available anywhere.
Zam Zam is Discovered:
She ran desperately in quest of water between two hillocks called Safa and Marwa but found no water. She came back to her thirsty infant and was surprised to see the spring of Zam Zam emerged from beneath the foot of the Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him). She heaved a sigh of relief. She quenched the thirst of her baby with water. Many people from far and wide came to the spot where Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his family had settled. Gradually this locality named Mecca became the birth place of Islam.
Vision of the Prophet Ibrahim Regarding the Sacrifice of the Prophet Isma’il:
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) went back to Palestine to join his first wife, the beloved Sarah. He received a Commandment in his vision to sacrifice his only son, Isma’il. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) had no hesitation in complying with what he was ordered to do but his son was infant at that time. He had to wait until he grew older. Due to delay the temptation of not doing what he was supposed to do, was certainly there. But the Prophet Ibrahim (peace he upon him) had a solid faith in Allah and his life was all dedicated to His’ service. So he kept on waiting until Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) became a teenager. One day the father told his son about the dream. To his great surprise he saw that Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) had no objection and was willing to be sacrificed as Allah had willed it. He said:
“O’ my father! Do what you have been commanded to do; then you will find me of the patients.” (37: 10, 11)
This was a hard decision for a young man to take and it was a moment of great faith in Allah.
The Ordeal of Sacrifice of Prophet Ismail:
On the tenth of Dhil Hijja the father and his beloved son walked side by side. A young lad possessed forbearance and the old man was full of determination and spirit to complete submission to Allah. Their purpose was to carry out the orders of their Lord. Nothing was dearer to them than the service of Allah. They proceeded towards Mina with a sharp butcher’s knife that, the old shaky Ibrahim had in his hand. Many a thought and memories of the past must have crossed in their minds. Finally they reached a special spot. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) looked at his loving son whereas Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) cast a glance at his, father obediently and cheerfully. The father laid his son prostrate on the ground. He was standing beside him. His heart was beating violently. He was shaking with emotions when he drew the knife across the neck of his son. It was a moment of action, an action that was very hard to put into practice.
God highly appreciated them for their obedience and they heard a voice:
“0′ Ibrahim! you have indeed shown the truth of the vision. Surely do We reward the doers of good.” (37:105)
When Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) fulfilled the command of the dream, he was ordered not to sacrifice his own son. A ram was provided in his stead. The Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) stood up and the ram was sacrificed. So the moment of suspense came to an end and both the father and the son expressed a deep sense of happiness and gratitude. From that time until today, the savage custom human sacrifice has been absolutely abolished.
Glad Tidings Regarding the Birth of Prophet Ishaq:
When the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) displayed his unstinted submission to the orders of Allah by trying to sacrifice his beloved son Ismail he was informed of a glad-tiding regarding the birth of baby from Sarah, his first wife. The Holy Qur’an affirms:
“And We gave him the good news of Ishaq (Isaac), a Prophet among the good ones and We showered our blessings on him and on Ishaq, and of their offspring are the doers of good and also those who are clearly unjust to their ownselves.” (37: 112, 113)
Time passed by and Sarah, the old lady got pregnant. At last she gave birth to a male baby and they gave him the name of Ishaq. Later on Isma’il (peace be upon him) proved to be the Prophet of the Muslims and Ishaq (peace be upon him) became the Prophet of the Jews.
Re-construction of Ka’bah:
The first House of Allah, the Ka’bah was erected by the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). It was reconstructed by the Prophet Ibrahim and the Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon them). The Muqam-e-Ibrahim is still outside the enclosure. It is a place of marble-like stone on which he stood to raise the walls of the sanctuary at Mecca. This stone contains the sunken imprints of the feet of the great Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). The Holy Qur’an testifies to the hallowed sanctity of this stone by declaring it to be one of the Signs of Allah. It says:
“We made the House a resort for men and a place of security after saying: Take as your place of worship the spot where Ibrahim stood to pray. And We enjoined Ibrahim and Isma’il by saying: Purify My House for those who visit it and those who meditate therein; and those who bow down and those who prostrate themselves.” (1:125)
The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) lived for 175 years. His life was full of happenings, tests and trials. He had a firm faith in Allah. He never missed a moment’s rest in calling for the message of Allah. He gained thousands upon thousands of believers. When he passed away, he was buried in Hebron, twenty miles south-west of Jerusalem.