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The Highly Adventurous Life of 'Ibrahim, the Iconoclastic Prophet

The Highly Adventurous Life of 'Ibrahim, the Iconoclastic Prophet

This Sura is the only one which is named after 'Ibrahim. However, the biography of 'Ibrahim is not covered only in this Sura. On the other hand, as there are mentions of this great Divine prophet on various occasions in other Suras, we considered it appropriate to discuss the highly- esteemed biography of this champion of monotheism in a concise manner at the end of this Sura so that we shall be able to interpret and comment on the various verses which we come across in the future, as they require command of this prophet's life. We hope that this short discussion provides sufficient awareness for our dear readers and we shall be able to provide them with useful references.

One can distinguish the life of 'Ibrahim into three distinct periods: 1- The Era prior to his prophetic Mission; 2- The Era of his prophetic Mission and his Campaign against the worshippers of idols in Babylon; 3- The Exodus Era from Babylon and his struggles and efforts in the Lands of Egypt, Palestine, and Mecca.

The Birthplace and Childhood of 'Ibrahim:

'Ibrahim was born in the lard of Babylon which was an amazing land of the world and which had a powerful and, at the same time, an oppressive and a tyrannical government which was in full control of it. (Some historians have regarded his birthplace in ''Ur', a city in the land of Babylon

The Highly Adventurous Life of 'Ibrahim (a.s.)

'Ibrahim was born at the time when, Nimrod- ibn- Kan'an, that oppressive and cruel king, was ruling Babylon and he used to present himself as the great god of Babylon. Certainly, the people of Babylon did not possess only this sole idol to worship, but, in the meantime, they had fabricated idols out of the various materials and used to worship them.

The dominant government of that land used to encourage vigorously the worshipping of idols as it considered the job as an effective means for stupefying and inciting hallucinations in people and regarded any kind of insult to the idols as a great crime and an unforgivable one.

Historians have recounted an amazing story about the birth of 'Ibrahim, a summary of which is as follows: Astrologers had predicted and had foretold that a person could be born who would stand up to the undivided and invincible power and authority of Nimrod. Then Nimrod sought to obstruct such a baby from being born, and once it was born, he did utmost to have him killed. Nonetheless, none of his plans was effective and the baby was born.

The mother of the baby tried her best and brought her child up in a cave near her birthplace so much so that she spent 31 years of her life in that place. And in such a situation, eventually, the child was brought up far from the scrutiny of the agents of Nimroud. He attained the age of puberty, and decided to leave that hiding- place forever, in order to go among the people, and explain the lessons of monotheism to the people which he had received with inspirations from within himself supplemented by his mental studies.

* * * *

Campaigns Against Various Groups of Idol- worshippers

At the time when the people of Babylon were worshipping such self- made idols, further, they were also worshipping such celestial beings as the sun, the moon and the stars. 'Ibrahim decided to awaken their dormant conscience by means of logic and clear and evident reasoning methods, thus drawing the dark curtains of the wrong suggestions down from the face of their clean inherent nature, so as to enable their enlightening nature to shine, in order that they might take several steps alongside of the path of monotheism.

'Ibrahim had done a great deal of studies concerning the creation of the universe, the skies and the earth as well as the power which was dominating and governing them and their amazing hierarchy, thus the light of certainty was being shed on his entire existence (1).

Logical Campaign Against the Idol- worshippers

At first, Abraham faced the worshippers of the stars, especially against those who used to worship Venus, which appears in the sky immediately after sunset, shining to the west of the horizon. They engaged in bowing and worshipping it.

Abraham shouted, "This is my Lord. " This he did either wonderfully, using a positive interrogation with a negative sense to stress the issue, or he used this way of expression to provide an introduction for the demonstration of their mistakes, or just for the sake of reinforcing of harmony with the opposite side in order to bring them in line.


(1) Sura Al- 'An'am, No. 6, verse 76

However, when it set, he remarked: "I do not like those the setting ones. "(1) And when the moon split the widely- open horizon, inciting the moon- worshippers to begin their worship, joining them he shouted: "This is my Lord! " But when it set, he said: 'If my Lord does not guide me I shall surely be of the people gone astray'. " When the sun split the darkness of night, shedding its golden rays over the mountains and plains, the sun- worshippers went on with their prayers. Then, Abraham said: "This is my Lord; this is the greatest! But when it set, he said: 'O' my people! Surely I am quit of that you associate (with Allah) '. " All these have got falls. They are at the mercy of change and are as puppets at the hands of creation and they have no feelings and will power of their own much less that they should be deemed as creator and administrator of this world: "Verily I have turned my face (myself wholly) toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, being upright, and I am not of the idolaters. "(2)

'Ibrahim left behind this stage of his campaign against the idol- worshippers in the most efficient way and could awaken some, while seeking to make others at least skeptic. He was soon subject of rumour in that region as to whom he might be who can affect masses of people's hearts, leaving such an impact on them with such an explicit and straightforward logic.

Dialogue with 'Azar

Abraham got engaged in a conversation with his uncle at another stage, and by using explicit and far- reaching speech


(1) Sura Al- 'An'am, No. 6, verse 76

(2) Ibid, verses 77- 79

coupled with affection and, at times, with warnings regarding idol- worshipping, told him: Why do you worship something which can not hear, can not see, and can not solve any problems you have If you follow me, I shall lead you in the right path. I am scared that soon you may face the Divine punishment if you follow the Satan.

Even, at the time when his uncle threatened him to stone him to death when he was admonishing him, he used the sentence "Peace be upon you! Saying: I shall ask my Lord to forgive you"(1), and he tried to find a way through his stone like heart.

The prophetic Mission of 'Ibrahim

As for the age when Abraham attained to the position of the prophetic mission, we have no access to clear evidence. However, we can conclude from Sura Maryam, that he had attained to the rank of his prophetic mission when he engaged in the dialogue with his uncle, for we read in this Sura addressing the prophet (p.b.u.h.) : "And mention in the Book; verily he was a truthful man, a prophet. " "When he said to his father (i. e. his uncle) : 'O my father! Why do you worship that which neither hears nor sees, nor does avail you in aught ?"(2)

We know that this adventure took place before an extensive entanglement with the idol- worshippers and his being was about to be burned by them. If we add what some historians have written saying that Abraham was only 61 years of age when setting of him a flame took place, it becomes clear that he was appointed to achieve his great mission even as early as his adolescence.


(1) Sura Maryam, No. 19, verse 47

(2) Ibid, verses 41- 42

Practical Campaigns Against the Idol- worshippers

Anyway, 'Ibrahim's involvement with the idol- worshippers reached greater proportions day by day which, eventually, terminated in breaking of all the idols of temple of Babylon except the great idol.

Dialogue with the oppressive Ruler:

The affairs regarding the opposition and campaign of Abraham (a.s.) with the idols finally reached Nimroud. He summoned him so as to silence him by the way of advising, or by warning, or by threatening him. He, who was very advert in sophisticating, asked Abraham if he did not worship the idols, who was then his Lord He answered the same one whose life and death are in His own hands: " My Lord is He Who gives life and causes to die. ' " He shouted: O you unaware person! This is in my hands! Do you not see how I command the offender who is to be executed to be freed, and how I stop his execution or I order the execution of the prisoner who is not convicted to be executed 'Ibrahim, who was advert in giving extraordinary sharp answers, seeking assistance from his prophetic power, told him: It is not but the matters of death and life which are in His hands; all of the affairs of the world of existence are at His command. Do you not see how the sun rises from the east every morning by His order and sets in the west If you rule the entire world of existence, reverse the process, so that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Nimroud was so astonished that he lost his ability to talk to him .(1)


(1) Sura Al- Baqarah, No. 2, verse 258

Undoubtedly, 'Ibrahim knew that Nimroud was playing with words as regards having power of life and death. However, his skill in reasoning did not permit the enemy side to win him over in his argument. Thus he abdicated that soon and stuck to a different method in which he got the enemy caught.

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