Prophets and Messengers

Ibrahim AS [Part 4]

From a time where there was not a single believer in the world, Ibrahim AS was in himself a nation in re-establishing the message of Allah. In a world where Islam had been extinguished, he was the first one to revive it, and lived his life accordingly. He perfectly exemplified the following verse in the Qur’an that referred to him:“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.” (6:162-6:163).

Ibrahim AS was bestowed the honour of being the forefather of all the Prophets and Messengers who came after him. From his son Ishaq AS, was born a chain of prophets, including Yaqub (Jacob) AS, Yusuf (Joseph) AS, Sulaiman (Solomon) AS, Musa (Moses) AS, Yahya (John) AS and ending with Isa (Jesus) AS. From the descendants of his son Ismail AS was born the final seal of the Prophets and Messengers, Muhammad SAW.

Up to today, Makkah, being the home of the Ka’abah is a place of assembly and sanctuary for Muslims. Muslims all over the word are obligated to make pilgrimage towards the Ka’abah for hajj, and also face the Ka’abah from all corners of the globe when standing and bowing in prayer. All these are attributable to the obedience of Ibrahim AS and his wife Hagar, to the commandments of Allah.

Over generations, the practice of monotheism once again declined, and the Ka’abah was eventually filled with various idols and images of false gods. This decline continued until the conquest of Makkah by Ibrahim’s AS descendant, Muhammad SAW, who finalised the teachings of Islam.

The Religion of Ibrahim AS

Many of the major Islamic rites today can be traced back to the time of Ibrahim’s AS family – these include the sacrifice during Eid al Adha, the symbolic stoning of Satan during hajj, the rite of sai’e during umrah and hajj, and the facing of all Muslims towards the Ka’abah during prayer. Each Muslim supplicates for the blessings of Ibrahim AS and his family during every salat. Much of what Ibrahim AS practiced, preached and built are physically manifested up to today. So what was the religion of Ibrahim AS?

Christians and Jews, being the other followers of the Holy Scriptures, have both staked a claim that Ibrahim AS belongs to their religion. However, this claim is illogical, and as the Qur’an points out: “O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason?” (3:65)

Ibrahim’s AS religion was simply that of Islam, the original religion, the same religion of the Prophets and Messengers that came before and after him. He did not submit himself to any tribes or groups, but worshipped Allah alone. That is why Allah said of him: “Indeed, the most worthy of Abraham among the people are those who followed him [in submission to Allah] and this prophet [i.e. Muhammad SAW], and those who believe [in his message].” (3:68) Ibrahim AS was a man pure in faith, who fulfilled all his pledges to Allah, and whose monotheistic submission to Allah was unequivocal. This is why he has the following honour: “…Allah took Ibrahim as a friend.” (4:125)

Ibrahim AS passed away when he was approximately 175 years old, outliving his wife Sara and his son Ismail AS. The human lifespan was already significantly shorter than that of Adam AS or Nuh AS – this lifespan reducing over the coming generations.

The work of Ibrahim AS continued through his sons, Ismail AS and Ishaq AS.

Lessons for us

Verse 53:37 of the Qur’an describes Ibrahim AS as one who has fulfilled his obligations or covenants. Scholars interpret this as total sacrifice – he had sacrificed his body to the fire, his heart when commanded to slaughter his son and his money to feed his guests. In other words, he had sacrificed the three most beloved things to mankind – themselves, their family members and their money. The Islamic faith demands belief by three elements: love, obedience and sacrifice. All of these were fulfilled by Ibrahim AS. He showed us how to love Allah and the Message above all else, setting the example of how we are to love and sacrifice our love for the path of Allah.

His family structure was inspiring and unprecedented – and hence they were rewarded immensely by Allah. Father, mothers and sons consistently displayed all the components of obedience to Allah. They were willing to make heartbreaking and monumental sacrifices, and were willing to be sacrificed in turn. It was through this remarkable family unit that the Message of Islam was revived, spread by generation upon generation of their descendants. Each of them had to overcome their individual emotions and personal obstacles – Sara, by offering Hagar to be wed to her own husband in order for the Message of Islam to continue; Hagar in overcoming her terror of being abandoned in the desert with her young boy; Ibrahim AS and Hagar by quelling the love they had for Ismail AS in favour of the love of Allah. Each of the family members understood the Message and the mission, and lived their lives in constant mutual support and sacrifice in order for the mission to be fulfilled.

The way that Ibrahim AS, Hagar and Ismail AS remained immune to the whisperings of the devil when Ismail AS was due to be sacrificed by Allah shows us that any message to do goodness comes from Allah, whereas any inclination to delay good deeds originates from the devil. The pillars in Jamarat where the pilgrims symbolically stone the devil during the hajj season commemorates the ultimate victory of man over the temptations of the devil and his own personal evil tendencies. It is an arduous process, with the crowds, dust and heat, but each pebble eradiates a major sin, absolving one from years of torture in hellfire. Such is the mercy of Allah, that an act replicating the actions of a man and his family generations ago can have the impact of giving us strength over temptations and desires, as well as to dissolve the sins of the past.

These people are the role models for us to follow. Their footsteps left a legacy of guidance to mankind. Now what about me and you? What footsteps do we have in this life and what legacy do we have in this life and to meet Allah with it?

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