As for thode who believe and jems and the sabaeans and the Christians,Magians and idolaters,Allah will distinguish between them on the Day of Resurrection... (Surat al-Hajj: 17)
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) Religion
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) Entraps the Idols
According to the Qur'an Allah gives those who fear and hold Him in awe the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This great kindness and superior blessing is restricted to the believers. The methods the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) used to call his tribe to belief, as well as his decisions and styles of presentation, are all important examples of this great blessing.
One example is the trap he laid for his tribe's idols. Given that he was all alone and operating in a dangerous environment, he took certain precautions to prevent bodily harm and to make sure that Allah's message would be heard. For example, he told the unbelievers around him that he was ill so that they would go away:
And [Abraham] asked his father and his tribe: "What are you worshipping? Is it falsehood—deities besides Allah—that you desire? So what are your thoughts about the Lord of all the worlds?" He looked at the stars and said: "I am sick." So they turned their backs on him. ( Surat as-Saffat: 85-90)
After sending the unbelievers away, he went up to the idols and smashed them:
He turned surreptitiously to their deities and asked: "Don't you eat? What is the matter with you that you don't speak?" He turned on them, striking out with his right hand. ( Surat as-Saffat: 91-93)
He broke them in pieces, except for the largest one, so that they would have it to consult! (Surat al-Anbiya: 58)
Leaving the largest idol untouched shows great wisdom. When his tribe saw what had happened and that only the largest idol remained, they immediately began looking for the person who had done this. Since they were aware of the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) opposition to their idols and paganism, they quickly realized that he was responsible and so sought him out to take their revenge:
They exclaimed: "Who has done this to our deities? He is definitely one of the wrongdoers!" They said: "We heard a young man mentioning them. They call him Abraham." They ordered: "Bring him before the people's eyes so they can be witnesses!" They asked: "Did you do this to our deities, Abraham?" (Surat al-Anbiya: 59-62)
That question revealed why the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) did not destroy the largest idol:
He said: "No, this one, the largest of them, did it. Ask them, if they are able to speak!" (Surat al-Anbiya: 63)
Hearing this response, the unbelievers inevitably began thinking and understanding that their idols would never have the power of speech. And so his plan succeeded, for it caused them to question their pagan belief system. Allah says:
They consulted among themselves and said: "It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers." (Surat al-Anbiya: 64)
However, their regret did not last long. Despite having understood the truth, they again decided to oppose the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) in order to maintain their traditional pagan belief system, which was in line with their own transitory worldly interests:
But then they relapsed back into their disbelief: "You know full well these idols cannot talk." He said: "Do you then worship, instead of Allah, that which cannot help or harm you in any way? Shame on you and what you worship besides Allah! Will you not use your intellect?" They said: "Burn him and support your deities, if you are resolved to do something." (Surat al-Anbiya: 65-68)
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) approach Allah reveals in these verses displays a finely calculated plan and wisdom by Allah's inspiration. Sending the people away by telling them that he was ill, he then smashed all but the largest idol in the hope that they would respond as he expected. This trap shows that he acted under Allah's inspiration and had superior intelligence and foresight. Under divine inspiration, he devised a brilliant trap and, by Allah's will, achieved a most pleasing success. After smashing the idols, he tested his tribe's belief system by saying that the largest idol had destroyed the others.
One aim of this plan was to make his tribe realize just how irrational their belief system actually was. If they failed to comprehend the irrational and illogical nature of their deeds, he knew that they would just make new idols and persist in their paganism. The important thing, therefore, was to make them understand that such superstitious worship was contrary to faith in Allah and His revelation.
It is totally irrational to think that statues can eat, drink, move, or do any harm or good to any person. When those who believe in such fallacies encounter a problem or a difficulty, they seek their idols' help and refrain from displeasing them. They do so due to their fear of their idols and their irrational and illogical belief that lifeless idols created the universe and all living things, direct everything within the universe, and bestow health and plenty, as well as daily bread, power, and understanding, upon humanity. Allah describes their great mistake in the following terms:
… who are not capable of helping them and cannot even help themselves? If you call them [unbelievers] to guidance, they will not follow you. It makes no difference if you call them or stay silent. (Surat al-A'raf: 192-93)
Do they have legs with which they can walk? Do they have hands with which they can grasp? Do they have eyes with which they can see? Do they have ears with which they can hear? Say: "Call on your deities, try all of your wiles against me, and grant me no reprieve." (Surat al-A'raf: 195)
However, such a lack of understanding is not limited to the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) time alone. Paganism still thrives today under a wide variety of different names. The false pagan beliefs of the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) time, for instance, bear a close resemblance to Darwinian claims.
Similarities between Paganism and Darwinism
The pagan tribes of the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) time foolishly worshipped idols that they and their ancestors had made, and believed that their idols could influence the workings of the universe. According to this superstitious belief, idols could make and implement decisions and could punish or reward human beings. In other words, these pagans believed that inanimate matter could create and control human beings. Allah reveals this terrible mistake and great sin in the Qur'an. For example:
Allah does not forgive anything being associated with Him, but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that. Anyone who associates something with Allah has committed a terrible crime. (Surat an-Nisa: 48)
Those who defend Darwin's theory of evolution follow a very similar superstitious and deviant concept, for they believe that certain elements (e.g., carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, calcium, magnesium, and iron) as well as muddy water containing various minerals, somehow acquired a supposedly superior power and free will over the course of time and by chance. The Darwinists claim that life emerged from the mud over time and by coincidence. Supposedly, this trio of muddy water, time, and chance decided to form all of the beautiful things in nature, animals, and, most importantly, conscious human beings.
The origins of this superstition lie in the fallacious belief that inanimate substances are actually entities that possess intelligence and willpower, and that can make and act upon decisions. In other words, they regard matter itself as something divine. Based upon this false concept, Darwinists maintain that everything in the universe developed on its own as the result of chance, and that every entity is regarded, together with chance, as supposedly divine. However, those who look at all of the animate and inanimate things that surround them, beginning with their own bodies, will see that the universe is the work of the Almighty Allah, Who possesses infinite intelligence and knowledge. Every detail, from our own planet to the flawless harmony within our own bodies, from the equilibrium between the galaxies, as well as the stars and all other celestial bodies, to our world with all of its countless blessings, proves the existence of an infinitely compassionate and loving Creator: Allah, Lord of the worlds.
Our Lord has revealed this manifest truth, which everyone can discover for themselves, to humanity through such messengers as the Prophet Abraham (pbuh). Yet for some reason, many people throughout history have rejected this truth and have insisted on denying His existence. In His final revelation, Allah describes the position of such people:
They have sworn by Allah with their most earnest oaths that if a sign comes to them, they will believe in it. Say: "The signs are under Allah's control alone." What will make you realize that even if a sign did come, they would still not believe? We will overturn their hearts and sight, just as when they did not believe in it at first, and We will abandon them to wander blindly in their excessive insolence. Even if We sent down angels to them, the dead spoke to them, and We gathered together everything in front of them right before their eyes, they would still not believe unless Allah willed. The truth is that most of them are ignorant. (Surat al-An'am: 109-111)
Darwinists believe that all living and non-living things created themselves by means of various chemical and physical properties of atoms, molecules, natural forces and objects, and with the help of chance. However, even in the most ideal Darwinian-inspired environment, it would still be impossible for anything to emerge. If evolutionists placed all of the atoms, enzymes, hormones, proteins, and whatever other elements they wish into the vat in the picture, mixed them by whichever methods they choose, and then nourished them for as long as they wished, no living thing, or even a cell of a living thing, will ever be produced.
As we have seen, claiming that unconscious atoms, minerals, and blind chance produced flawless and perfect features is nothing more than bowing down before wooden totems and begging them for health and abundance. The only difference between the two is the names given to them and the concepts used to describe them.
According to the pagans among whom the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) lived, certain idols allegedly regulated the universe, shaped living things, and directed their behavior. Similarly, Darwinists believe that all living things and the universe's flawless Creation emerged under the effect of inanimate matter (e.g., atoms, molecules, natural forces, and the chemical and physical properties of objects). Just as pagans ascribe such powers to their idols, Darwinists use such concepts as the self-organization of matter and nature's creation of species in utter irrationality to ascribe imaginary creative power to lifeless matter and then deify it.
This can be clearly seen in popular publications that support the theory of evolution. Such publications make frequent reference to various Darwinist idols, the greatest idol of which is Mother Nature. Those who defend this misguided belief think that every development and change in the universe (e.g., the countless beauties in living things, the life and death of all living beings, and natural disasters) comes about by the direction and will of Mother Nature. As a result of grave ignorance, they reveal their misguided beliefs in such unreasonable expressions as a gift from nature to humanity when speaking of one of nature's beauties, or the wrath of Mother Nature when referring to a disaster. However, they can never explain from where Mother Nature receives her power, nor what she really is. Of course, this is a very ugly and irrational claim to make. Such people ascribe partners to Allah and attempt to base their perverted beliefs on an allegedly scientific foundation. Professor Philip Johnson, a contemporary critic of Darwinism, describes the theory of evolution and modern materialist philosophy in general as a kind of idolatry:
… denial is always a temptation, and outright atheism is only the most superficial form of denial… Another time-honored strategy [of denial] is to ... [substitute] something we can control. This is called idolatry. Primitive tribes make idols of wood or clay. Sophisticated modern intellectuals make idols of their theories, still employing the word God … but in such a way that it adds nothing to chance and the laws of nature. All who pursue this strategy are substituting the created thing for the Creator, and this is the essence of idolatry.3
Indeed, substituting the created and helpless entities for our Lord, Who created the whole universe from nothing (surely Allah is beyond all that which they falsely ascribe to Him), has always been one of paganism's main themes. The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) struggled against this very worldview, as Allah reveals in the following verse:
Remember when he [Abraham] asked his father: "Father, why do you worship what can neither hear nor see and is of no use to you at all?" (Surah Maryam: 42)
… when he asked his father and his tribe: "What are these statues you are clinging to?" They said: "We found our fathers worshipping them." He said: "You and your fathers are clearly misguided." (Surat al-Anbiya: 52-54)
Clearly, it is a great mistake to suggest that matter is conscious and, as a result, ascribe consciousness to material things. Atoms, molecules, muddy water, and coincidence have no consciousness or power to make any decisions or to think. Atoms are unconscious, inanimate objects. Everything in the universe can acquire life only because of the existence of a superior consciousness and will. These attributes are unique to Allah, Lord of the worlds, for He created the whole universe and thereby displays His infinite knowledge. The flawlessness of His Creation, His superior intelligence, and His exalted wisdom can be seen everywhere in the universe. Allah has created everything, living and non-living, out of nothing and has endowed each one with features that astonish us.
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) showed his tribe that the Moon, the Sun, and the stars had no creative power, and then called on them to abandon their paganism and believe in Allah. The path that he followed contains several signposts for us. First of all, he demonstrated, with the inspiration of Allah and in the wisest and most effective way, why the pagans' beliefs were superstitious and groundless.
This approach is an important guide for all believers. Some present-day circles say that it is unnecessary to expose the fallacious nature of such atheist philosophies as Darwinism and materialism, or the errors of those who expound them. In their view, describing Allah's superior Creation is sufficient. But this point of view is mistaken. One of the most important ways of changing peoples' viewpoints consists of answering, one by one, of all their questions. For that reason, while explaining the proofs of Allah's existence and the facts about His Creation, believers must also explain why the theory of evolution is incorrect. This will help the people understand that their own ideas have no real foundation, and, if Allah wills, they will abandon these long-held deceptions and see that Allah's existence is a manifest truth.
Explaining why Darwinism is invalid eliminates all of the supports employed in its defense. In this way, all errors and impossibilities are exposed. Thanks to his superior understanding and foresight, which stemmed from his joyous faith in Allah, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was able to reveal, with proofs and in the wisest possible way, why human-made idols and celestial bodies are not divine. People who spread the message of Allah's existence and the truth of His Creation can use the same method, for Allah made the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) a role model for others of how to live with proper moral values and strong faith.
Another similarity between the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) tribe and Darwinists is their response to the message. The pagans realized that their statues had no power to do anything and admitted as much, as Allah reveals in the verse: "They consulted among themselves and said: 'It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers'" (Surat al-Anbiya: 64). Despite the fact that they saw the truth and accepted it in their hearts, they persisted in their denial and remained blindly loyal to their idols.
Darwinists also know that modern science has exposed the theory of evolution as a fallacy. (For details, see Harun Yahya, Darwinism Refuted, [New Delhi: Goodword Books, 2002].) Every new study that reveals the proofs of Allah's superior Creation pushes them deeper into despair and defeat. Examples of all living things' flawless characteristics and His marvelous Creation's details are being made known by scientists, whereas the claims of Darwinism are being dismissed by science. However, while Darwinists do not openly admit this, they do so between the lines and most unwillingly, and even then not in the full sense. In every debate, they blindly continue to defend their theories and ignore the evidence against them.
Believers must not forget one very important fact: The important thing is not to attest to a truth on the surface through words; what really matters is to grasp this truth within one's heart. Darwinists have accepted the truth of Creation in their hearts, and their desire to conceal their true thoughts does not alter this fact. Furthermore, this reveals an important truth informed in the Qur'an: "Only a small community will believe" (Surah Ghafir: 59).
Believers are responsible for explaining the truth as many times as required, to develop new methods and styles in order to reach those who do not understand, and to wage a wide-ranging intellectual struggle to inform people of His religion in the best manner possible. Believers who engage in this struggle must be humble and fully submitted to Allah, for only Allah can lead those who listen to them to the true path.
While relaying His message, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was most patient and set an example to others with his humility and submission to Allah. In all situations, he knew that Allah was with him, believed that even the most difficult times and situations were created by Him, and that our Lord would always bring everything to the proper conclusion. Therefore, he persisted in the face of the threats from his tribe and placed his trust in Allah, since he knew that the end result was in His hands. In return for this most pleasing humility, Allah always granted him strength and success.
ADNAN OKTAR'S LIVE INTERVIEW ON EKIN TV, (January 19, 2009)
ADNAN OKTAR: First of all, their idol needs to be destroyed just like how the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and the Prophet Moses (pbuh) did. As you know, the Prophet Moses (pbuh) first smashed down that golden calf and showed people that his staff turned into a slithering snake. This way, he proved invalidity of the idea of evolution at the outset and made evident that neither people nor creatures came into existence from the muddy waters of the Nile through coincidences. Foremost, he proved Creation. What we will do is to prove Creation first and explain the invalidity of Darwinism to people in order to clear their brains away from that idol, from that dirt. After putting that away, it is very easy to give the message of Islam and the Qur'an on top of that clean foundation. But the most important thing is to attach importance to the signs of Creation. For example talking about the body structure or life of an insect, or the life of a bee will amaze one who has no knowledge on these. The lives and physical features of these animals is astoundingly perfect and marvelous. They, for instance, may also tell the life of a spider. However, they will get the most effective result in describing that the perceived image forms in the brain. If they are capable of making people comprehend this well, those ones may attain a stage of hakkal yakin faith. No wise person could resist this knowledge and I cannot imagine anyone who would confront this.
ADNAN OKTAR'S LIVE INTERVIEW ON EKIN TV, KOCAELI TV, (December 15, 2009)
ADNAN OKTAR: Firstly, one has to establish love in his heart, he has to be very sincere, he should not make himself uneasy. He has to submit himself to Allah, he will have fear of Him. He should read the Qur'an at least a couple of times. Then, he should totally submit himself to the path of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), to the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah and be attached to it. Other than that, smashing the philosophy is also very important. See what the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) has done? He came and gave a blow on all the idols. What did the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) do? He also smashed the idols. What did the Prophet Moses (pbuh) do? He destroyed the idol. What is the idol of the End Times? It is Darwinism and materialism. Then what is our foremost duty? To destroy all the idols, to smash down the idol of Darwinism with all one's strength, using science as the axe. For this, there is need for weapons made of light and they can receive that by making use of my books, works and our Internet website. That way they will have accomplished that beautiful task. When idols are broken down, then the path is wide open to pure natural belief. Then we can move as we like, but it is definitely important that we should not divide, we should not separate Muslims as Shiite, Alawite or Sunni, because they all recite "La ilaha illa Allah Muhammad Rasul Allah." It is crucially significant that we have love for them all, we embrace all as friends and brothers. Anything contrary to this would serve the satan. May Allah forbid. There is only a handful of Muslims over this world, for instance we are only by the handful in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Iraq. But there are ones who make mischief and attempt bringing them against one another. They want Syria to fall out with Iraq, Iraq with Syria, Iran with Turkey, Turkey with Iran, Saudi Arabia with Iraq in order to make them fight one another. These are masonic games and they want Muslim countries to fall out with each other. Nobody should be deceived into this. Everyone who says, "La ilaha illa Allah Muhammad Rasul Allah" is our brother. We enfold them in our arms insha'Allah.
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) Intellectual Struggle
As mentioned earlier, the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) tribe persisted in their denial and tried to engage him in a debate. On the other hand, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was patient in every situation and displayed a superior morality by taking Allah as his Guardian and giving thanks to Him. When talking with his tribe, he always provided concrete proofs and, thanks to the superior wisdom inspired in him by Allah, gave the most effective examples and employed a most convincing method. His moral values were pleasing to Allah, and he always approached people with affection and compassion.
By means of his plan Allah revealed to him, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) eliminated the fundamental bases of his tribe's pagan superstitions by proving that they were irrational, illogical, and contrary to Allah's revelation.
Whereas his tribe and his father Azar sought to employ the most unjust methods against him, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) limited himself to working on the level of ideas and demonstrated how important the intellectual struggle was. His opponents sought to stone him, exile him, and even martyr him, but he responded to their threats in a balanced and proper manner. Such behavior is part of the morality that pleases Allah and that He wills believers to adopt:
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Surah Fussilat: 34)
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) complete submission to Allah, as well as his powerful faith, sincerity, submission, and purity strengthened him in the face of his tribe's hostility and helped him develop effective methods of explaining Allah's existence. He spent his whole life waging an intellectual struggle against all unbelievers with enormous determination and enthusiasm, all the while expecting no reward other than Allah's good pleasure, mercy, and Paradise.
Some present-day people despair because, seeing their fellows deny Allah's existence and lead lives far removed from the Qur'an's moral values causes them to lose their enthusiasm for gaining His good pleasure. However, even if the whole world were to deny Allah, Muslims would still have the duty to submit sincerely to Him and live in the manner that earns His good pleasure. In the verse, "Abraham was a community in himself, exemplary, obedient to Allah, a man of pure natural belief. He was not one of the idolaters"(Surat an-Nahl: 120), Allah reveals that this servant turned only to Him and lived according to the true faith all by himself. Therefore, all believers must display the same determination and refuse, no matter what the circumstances, to make concessions when confronted with the unbelievers' deceptions and snares.
The Wish to Burn the Prophet Abraham (pbuh)
Angered that their idols had been smashed, the pagans decided to take their revenge upon the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) by burning him to death. As Alla reveals in the following verse:
They exclaimed: "Build a pyre for him and fling him into the blaze!" They tried to outwit him, but We made them the lowest. (Surat as-Saffat: 98)
In another verse, Allah reveals their hostility, as follows:
The only answer of his [Abraham's] tribe was to say: "Kill him or burn him!" But Allah rescued him from the fire. There are certainly signs in that for people who believe. (Surat al-Ankabut: 24)
Although they could clearly see the proofs of Allah's existence, their great anger drove them to throw the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) into the fire. This is an important example of their hatred and intolerance of Allah's prophets and believers. In fact, in the Qur'an Allah reveals that a number of other believers were subjected to a similar cruelty:
Cursed be the Companions of the Pit—the fire well stocked with fuel—when they were seated right beside it witnessing what they did to the believers. The only reason they punished them was because they believed in Allah the Almighty, the All-Praiseworthy. (Surat al-Buruj: 4-8)
As with all of the unbelievers' other snares, this one was also foiled by Allah. Those believers who suffer torture gain great merit in His sight, and the unbelievers who inflict it upon them are rewarded with eternal suffering in Hell.
At first sight, it appeared that the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) would be burned to death. However, in the same way that death only comes when Allah wills, fire can only burn if He so wills it. Allah, the Creator of all things, commanded the fire to be cool at that moment, and thus turned the unbelievers' trap against themselves:
We said: "Fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham." They desired to trap him, but We made them the losers. We delivered both him and Lot to the land that We had blessed for all beings. (Surat al-Anbiya: 69-71)
Just as Allah always helps His prophets, He rescued the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) in his moment of need and in the finest way. The unbelievers' trap was miraculously foiled, just as He parted the sea and then drowned Pharaoh's army to rescue the Prophet Moses (pbuh) and the Children of Israel. By keeping his fortitude, courage, and humility in such a situation, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) sets an example for all believers. Due to his exceedingly powerful faith, he was aware that everything that happened to him was due to Allah's will and Allah is the Best of Plotters. He knew, therefore, that Allah's help and support were always with believers, even in the most difficult-appearing events, for Allah never permits unbelievers to make progress at the believers' expense: "Allah will not give the unbelievers any way against the believers." (Surat an-Nisa: 141)
Taking the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), who is praised for his faith in and submission to Allah, as well as for his pleasing morality, as a role model, believers must submit wholly to Allah when they encounter difficult circumstances, and must never forget that Allah creates everything. In fact, all events, even those that appear to be harmful, are actually tests and are auspicious for believers. This being the case, the most appropriate attitude for Muslims to adopt in order to earn Allah's good pleasure is to be enthusiastic and determined and to place their trust in our Lord.
For that reason, believers should not feel sad or troubled by the unbelievers' traps, plots, and assaults, for they are all means to increase their enthusiasm and draw closer to Allah. Indeed, Allah tells our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) the following:
Be patient. But your patience is only by Allah. Do not be grieved by them and do not be constricted by the plots they hatch. Allah is with those who fear Him and with those who are good-doers. (Surat an-Nahl: 127-28)
In the verse, "Fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham" (Surat al-Anbiya: 69)
Allah reveals that the fire did not harm the Prophet Abraham (pbuh). As a result, the pagans' snares were neutralized and they could not harm him. This verse also contains an important indication for the present day. (Allah knows the truth.)
As we know, all kinds of fabrics and materials are now produced by high technology. Among them are fire-proof clothing and vehicles. For instance, fire-resistant clothes protect their wearers against fire, flames, and other effects of burning, for they catch fire less easily, burn slower, and put themselves out when the flame or the fire's source is removed. Such clothing gives people more time to remove their burning clothes or extinguish the blames.
Fabrics made from glass, aramid, novoloid, sulphur, and saran fibers do not catch fire and resist very high temperatures. These fabrics are the result of different fibers joined together, through a series of tests, to protect the wearer against fire. Shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, shoes, gloves, socks, and headgear designed from such fire-resistant materials are used by workers in oil refineries, chemical substance producing plants, electricity and natural gas facilities, steel and aluminum factories, welding plants, the air and space industry, the construction industry, and emergency and fire-fighting personnel. (American Firewear Product Specifications; http://www.firewear.com/spcgide.htm)
The above verse may be pointing to this major scientific development, which will emerge during the End Times, and indicating the production of these fire-resistant fabrics and materials. (Allah knows the truth.)
The Wisdom in the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) Method
Indicating the Truth by Asking Questions
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) led his pagan people to accept the fact that their idols possessed no power by asking questions:
Do you then worship, instead of Allah, that which cannot help or harm you in any way? (Surat al-Anbiya: 66)
Posing questions enables people to understand their own situations by using their own logic. This is a most effective means of communication. Those who deny Allah suffer a huge defeat in the face of wise, sincere questions, because Allah's existence and the evidence for it are clear. Therefore, it is a serious mistake to close one's eyes to His religion and build a life in which He is forgotten.
Unbiased people who can grasp Allah's infinite might and power know that He has power over everything and that He possesses infinite knowledge and wisdom, and so build their entire lives on His good pleasure. One effective manner of awakening the heedless and those who fail, under satan's influence, to think of these things is to ask questions that will focus their minds. Indeed, many verses invite people to think by asking various questions:
Have you thought about the water that you drink? Is it you who sent it down from the clouds, or are We the Sender? If We had wished, We could have made it bitter. So will you not give thanks? Have you thought about the fire that you light? Is it you who make the trees that fuel it grow, or are We the Grower? We have made it to be a reminder and a comfort for travelers in the wild. So glorify the name of your Lord, the Magnificent! (Surat al-Wakia:68-74)
As they explain religion's moral values, believers may experiment with several methods depending on the people being addressed, their degree of openness, and how they behave. If they are open to the truth, then it will be easy, if Allah so wills, for them to comprehend religion's moral values. If, however, believers are faced with an arrogant and cruel society, such as the one facing the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), then it is essential to awaken them in some way, defeat their heedlessness, and rock them intellectually.
Due to their arrogance, such people cannot see the truth and, if they somehow do manage to see it, they still cannot accept it. They will stubbornly maintain the truth of their own false beliefs and refuse to listen to any opposing viewpoint. In such a situation, asking questions designed to undermine the unbelievers' ideas is one of the wisest and most effective methods, for unbelievers will be overwhelmed by contradictions and personally witness their irrationality and how they have adopted a superstitious and misguided belief system.
This method also forces the other side to think about what the believers' arguments are, for, as Allah states, "man is argumentative" (Surat al-Kahf: 54). For this reason, most people will try to defend their own ideas when confronted with a different idea. The way to prevent such unproductive arguments is to ask questions and lead people to question their own beliefs. Since satan does not want people to think about Allah's existence, the Hereafter, Heaven and Hell, and other important matters, he always seeks to turn them away from the truth. This question-and-answer method can be used with such people to guide them to consider such questions as Allah's existence, the purpose of life, what happens after death, and the Day of Reckoning.
Behaving Courageously and Frankly
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh), like all messengers, was granted wisdom by Allah and charged with calling people to religion so that they may earn His good pleasure, live for the Hereafter, and have proper moral values. The messengers' methods of calling and explaining, as well as their styles of dialogue, must serve as examples to all Muslims.
The societies to which the prophets were sent generally consisted of stubborn people who refused to listen to others. Nevertheless, the prophets presented Allah's message in ways designed to earn Allah's good pleasure and demonstrated superior moral virtues, as Allah commanded in the following verse: "So call and go straight, as you have been ordered to..." (Surat ash-Shura: 15). The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had to deal with his tribe, who loved to argue and were devoted to the paganism inherited from their ancestors. When he showed them how illogical and irrational their pagan belief system was, they began arguing with him:
His tribe argued with him. He [Abraham] said: "Are you arguing with me about Allah, when He has guided me? I have no fear of any partner you ascribe to Him, unless my Lord should will such a thing to happen. My Lord encompasses all things in His knowledge, so will you not pay heed? Why should I fear that which you have associated with Him, when you yourselves apparently have no fear of associating partners with Allah, for which He has sent down no authority to you? Which of the two parties is more entitled to feel safe, if you have any knowledge?" Those who believe and do not mix up their faith with any wrongdoing, they are the ones who are safe; it is they who are guided." This is the argument We gave to Abraham against his tribe. We raise in rank anyone We will. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. (Surat al-An'am: 80-83)
One of the most striking elements in the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) method of communication is his sincerity and frankness. While explaining Allah's existence, he addresses peoples' consciences and speaks effectively. In addition, he openly warns them and calls on them to fear and respect no one but Allah. This shows how courageous, perceptive, and determined he was when confronting his pagan society. The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) exposed the irrational nature of his tribe's misguided belief system with a sincere explanation and an effective style of presentation. Allah tells all believers to use this method:
Allah knows what is in such people's hearts, so turn away from them, warn them, and speak to them with words that are effective. (Surat an-Nisa: 63)
Although he was opposed by his entire tribe, the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) enthusiasm and determination, as well as his striking, sincere, and intelligent style of presentation, represent a superior attitude capable of influencing all unbiased people. However, since his tribe was far from true religion and was unwilling to abandon their paganism even after realizing the truth of the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) words, he experimented with other methods. As Allah reveals in the Qur'an, he responded in the most pleasing way to his argumentative people. In one verse, Allah issues the following command to believers:
If they argue with you, say: "I have submitted myself completely to Allah, and so have all who follow me." Say to those given the Book and those who have no Book: "Have you become Muslim?" If they have become Muslim, they have been guided. If they turn away, you are only responsible for transmission. Allah sees His servants. (Surah Al 'Imran: 20)
Planned Behavior and Sequential Thinking
As we have shown above, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) used several plans and methods by Allah's inspiration when calling his tribe to belief in Allah. One method was to consider the likely dangers and reactions in order to prepare effective precautions. Allah reveals in the Qur'an that He supported all prophets, gave them superior wisdom and understanding, and enabled them, through divine inspiration, to function as servants who took the most rational and effective precautions and who possessed great foresight. The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had all of these superior characteristics in the most perfect form. Thus, he fulfilled his God-given responsibility in the best possible manner and did his best to call his tribe to the truth.
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) tribe, which was quite numerous, threatened him with martyrdom, stoning, and exile. However, he sought to keep his distance from them by telling them that he was ill as Allah reveals in the verses:
And [Abraham] asked his father and his tribe: "What are you worshipping? Is it falsehood—deities besides Allah—that you desire? So, what are your thoughts about the Lord of all the worlds?" He looked at the stars and said: "I am sick." So they turned their backs on him. (Surat as-Saffat: 85-90)
This method reflects a most wise and rational attitude, for his tribe left him alone out of fear that they themselves might become ill. Left alone, he gained enough time to smash the idols. This clever plan, designed to free his tribe from the sin of ascribing partners to Allah, is one of the finest examples of acting based upon his love for and fear (respect) of Allah and personal faith. He made great efforts to carry out his God-given responsibility and, with great courage and determination, refused to give up in the face of all difficulties. He sought no reward from people, responded to evil with good, and sought only Allah's good pleasure while doing so.
In the Qur'an, there are other examples of portraying something as flawed and thus escaping the clutches of the cruel, such as Khidr (pbuh), who traveled with the Prophet Moses (pbuh) for a short time. The verses read:
They continued until they boarded a boat, and he [Khidr] caused it to sink. Then Moses said: "Did you cause it to sink so that its owners would be drowned? This is truly a dreadful thing that you have done!" (Surat al-Kahf: 71)
[Khidr said to Moses:] "As for the boat, it belonged to some poor people who worked on the sea. I wanted to damage it because a king was coming behind them, commandeering every boat." (Surat al-Kahf: 79)
Khidr (pbuh) was chosen by Allah and given special knowledge through Allah's inspiration, and his great intelligence and foresight in this instance are worthy of note. In the Qur'an Allah praises his profound faith, humility, and submission to Allah, as well as many of his other qualities, and reveals that he was a servant of Allah with special knowledge from Him and whose every action was founded on guidance and wisdom. By sinking this boat, Khidr (pbuh) prevented the king from taking it and also showed great compassion towards its owners, who were poor. At the same time, he damaged it in such a way that it could be easily repaired.
These verses also describe Khidr (pbuh) as being a wise servant of Allah who carried out His commands without hesitation, and as being noteworthy for his love and compassion, for his desire to help believers, and for his patience and determination. (For details, see Harun Yahya, Signs of the End Times in Surat Al- Kahf [New Delhi: Goodword Books, 2004].)
As we saw earlier, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) smashed all but the largest of his tribe's false idols with inspiration from Allah. After seeing what he had done, they sought to punish him. At this point, his plan to show them the fallacy of their pagan belief system emerged:
He said: "No, this one, the largest of them, did it. Ask them, if they are able to speak!" (Surat al-Anbiya: 63)
This reply confronted the pagans, who believed the nonsense that their idols directed the universe and controlled human beings, with a terrible dilemma. As a result, they were humbled and unable to respond. Seeing that their lifeless idols had no power, they had no alternative but to accept the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) words. However, they could not publicly admit these truths, which they believed in their hearts and minds. One reason for this, as Allah reveals, was their "wrongness and haughtiness" (Surat an-Naml: 14).
Another element of the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) method was to undermine his tribe's misguided beliefs before explaining the truth to them. Allah gave him great wisdom, superior understanding, and the power of effective communication, all of which he employed in the wisest, most effective, and rational style to call his tribe to belief. Under divine inspiration, he exposed the falsity of their pagan belief system and then replaced it, by His will, with a divine perspective based on Allah's existence and belief in His superior power and might.
This wise method is an important model that all Muslims should use when explaining religion's moral values. By revealing his tribe's pagan belief system as no more than a set of contradictions and inconsistencies, he followed the wisest and most effective mode of guiding his tribe to truth. Such an approach will, if Allah wills, help unbelievers see that their beliefs rest on illogical and irrational foundations, after which they may grasp religion's superior nature and understand that Allah created the universe from nothing, possesses infinite might and power, and pervades all things.
The Angels Allah Sent to the Prophet Abraham (pbuh)
One of Allah's greatest blessings to the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was to support him with angels. According to the Qur'an two angels came to the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) in human guise and stayed in his house:
Has the story reached you of the honored guests of Abraham? When they entered his dwelling and said: "Peace," he replied: "Peace, to people we do not know." (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 24-25)
Our angels brought the good news to Abraham. They said: "Peace," and he too said: "Peace" and brought in a roasted calf without delay. (Surah Hud: 69)
As we see, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) realized immediately that these guests were not ordinary guests. He showed a superior hospitality to them, although he had never seen before, and immediately offered them pleasant refreshments. Such an act symbolizes his superior moral values. And, offering such refreshments before his unknown guests made any requests is an example of the fine thinking that Muslims need to adopt. Another model worthy of adoption is the way he prepared the refreshments without giving any indication that he was doing so:
So he slipped off to his household and brought a fattened calf. He offered it to them and then exclaimed: "Do you not then eat?" (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 26-27)
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) did not ask his guests whether they were hungry or tell them that he had made any preparations. This is the height of good manners, for a guest may feel shy to request some refreshments, and his or her self-respect may prevent such a request from being made. The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) handling of this situation indicates his respect for and interest in his guests.
He offered them a roasted, fattened calf, which people of that time considered to be a most pleasing and delicious meal. His request that they eat is one of the finest examples of his superior morality and thought.
The Angels' Glad Tidings
However, his guests did not eat the food placed before them, because:
When he saw that their hands were not reaching for it, he suspected them and felt afraid of them. They said: "Have no fear. We have been sent to the tribe of Lot." (Surah Hud: 70)
The way that his guests declined to eat, even though he had treated them very warmly and offered them food, showed the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) that something extraordinary was happening. These angels, who came to him in human guise, displayed a most noble and blameless morality. Indeed, he treated them with such enormous hospitality because he realized that they were most worthy guests. The angels then revealed their true identities and gave him the glad tidings of a righteous son:
When they came in to him, they said: "Peace." He replied: "Truly we are afraid of you." They said: "Do not be afraid. We bring you the good news of a boy of great knowledge." (Surat al-Hijr: 52-53)
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his wife were astonished, for both of them were quite old. In addition, his wife was barren. The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) replied with the following words:
He asked: "Do you bring me this good news despite the fact of old age having reached me? What kind of good news are you bringing me?" They said: "We bring you good news of the truth, so do not be among those who despair." (Surat al-Hijr: 54-55)
His wife was standing there, and she laughed out loud. So We gave her the good news of Isaac, and beyond Isaac, Jacob. She exclaimed: "Woe is me! How can I give birth when I am an old woman and my husband is an aged man? This is indeed an astonishing thing!" (Surah Hud: 71-72)
This was news of a great miracle. In response to his wife's question, we read in the verse, "They said: 'That is what your Lord says. He is the All-Wise, the All-Knowing'" (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 30). As Allah revealed in another verse, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his wife were told not to be astonished:
They said: "Are you astonished at Allah's command? May Allah's mercy and His blessings be upon you, People of the House. He is Praiseworthy, All-Glorious." (Surah Hud: 73)
The angels also reminded the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) of something else:
They said [to Abraham]: "We bring you good news of the truth, so do not be among those who despair." (Surat al-Hijr: 55)
Losing faith in Allah is a spiritual state prevalent among people who live far removed from Allah. When their expectations fail to materialize, they despair and believe that their wishes will never come true. Thus, they cannot show the requisite appreciation of Allah. On the other hand, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) always exhibited proper moral values by placing his hope in Allah.
Believers, who are aware of Allah's power, seek everything from Him and place their hope in Him. They do this because they know that only Allah creates causes and the ensuing effects, and only He controls the world through His laws. If He wills something to be, He merely says, Be! and it will immediately come about. Since everything is possible in Allah's sight, believers make their requests full of hope. Allah reveals His infinite might in following terms:
The Originator of the heavens and Earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, "Be!" and it is. (Surat al-Baqara: 117)
People who grasp this great truth know that even apparently insurmountable obstacles exist because of His wisdom. Allah Who creates sterility for the wife of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) so can turn it into fertility in a moment. That is what happened in the story of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his barren wife who had never given birth before, despite their great age. Only Allah, Who gave them a righteous son, can give and take life, and then bring anything to life once again.
In the Qur'an Allah relates a miraculous event and reveals that He will cause the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his wife to have a righteous son. There may also be an indication in this verse of present-day sterility treatments and advances in medical science. (Allah knows the truth.)
Other News Brought by the Angels
The first news the angels brought to the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) is the glad tidings of a son. The angels then informed the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) that Prophet Lot's (pbuh) tribe would soon be destroyed because of their homosexual lifestyle. (This will be discussed in greater detail later on.) Allah states in the Qur'an:
He [Abraham] inquired: "What, then, is your business, O emissaries from Allah?" They said: "We have been sent to a tribe of evildoers to unleash upon them lumps of clay earmarked by your Lord for the profligate." (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 32-34)
Allah also gives more details about this conversation in other passages. For example:
When Our emissaries came with the good news to Abraham, they said: "We are going to destroy the people of this city. Truly its inhabitants are wrongdoers." He said: "Lot is in it." They said: "We know very well who is in it. We are going to rescue him and his family—except for his wife. She will be one of those who stay behind." (Surat al-Ankabut: 31-32)
When the feeling of fear left Abraham and the good news reached him, he disputed with Us about the tribe of Lot. Abraham was forbearing, compassionate, and penitent. "Abraham, turn away from this! Your Lord's command has come. A punishment is coming to them that cannot be repelled." (Surah Hud: 76)
They said: "We have been sent to a people who are evildoers—with the exception of the family of Lot, all of whom We will save, except for his wife. We have decreed her to be one of those who stay behind." (Surat al-Hijr: 58-60)
Allah reveals in the Qur'an that He will never destroy a society that contains believers. For that reason, the angels told the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and the Prophet Lot (pbuh) to leave the region.
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) Sons: Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) and Prophet Isaac (pbuh)
The angels told the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) that Allah had accepted his prayer for a righteous child:
"My Lord, bestow on me a righteous child!" (Surat as-Saffat: 100)
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh) did not ask Allah for a child from his own line especially, but rather for a righteous son. His prayer was for a devout Muslim who would keep the religion alive after his death. The fact that he was not expecting a son can be seen from his reply as Allah revealed in a verse: "Do you bring me this good news despite the fact of old age having reached me? What kind of good news are you bringing me?" (Surat al-Hijr: 54). However, Allah willed to create a righteous line of descent for the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), and so made his elderly and barren wife fertile. As we stated earlier, He sent angels to inform the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his wife of this miracle:
And We gave him the good news of a forbearing boy. (Surat as-Saffat: 101)
This example also applies to Prophet Zachariah (pbuh), one of the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) descendants. In the Qur'an Allah informs us of the Prophet Zachariah's (pbuh) prayer and of his being given the glad tidings that his wife will bear a righteous son:
Remembering your Lord's mercy to His servant Zachariah, when he called on his Lord in secret and said: "My Lord, my bones have lost their strength and my head is crowned with white, but in calling on You, my Lord, I have never been disappointed. I fear my relatives when I am gone and my wife is barren, so give me an heir from You to be my inheritor and the inheritor of the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing to You." "O Zachariah. We give you the good news of a boy named John, a name we have given to no one else before." He asked: "My Lord! How can I father a son when my wife is barren and I have reached advanced old age?" He [Allah] replied: "It will be so. Your Lord says: 'That is easy for me to do. I created you before, when you were nothing.'" (Surah Maryam: 2-9)
Like the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), Prophet Zachariah (pbuh) asked for a devout son. As stated above, only Allah can guide someone to the true path. Indeed, Allah reveals: "... Allah guides those He wills. He has best knowledge of the guided" (Surat al-Qasas: 56). Our Lord also gives the example of Prophet Noah's (pbuh) son. This person had such a worthy father, a role model of sincerity, patience, submission, and pleasing moral values. However, since he did not comply with his father's call to the true path, but rather followed the unbelievers, Allah drowned him in the flood along with the other unbelievers (Surah Hud: 43).
Our Lord gave the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) the glad tidings that he would have righteous children. In the Qur'an Allah reveals that these esteemed sons were the Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) and the Prophet Isaac (pbuh), whom He raised to the rank of prophethood because of their devotion and submission to Him, as well as their pleasing moral values. After receiving this welcome news, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) prayed and thanked Allah:
Praise be to Allah Who, despite my old age, has given me Ishmael and Isaac. My Lord is the Hearer of Prayer. (Surah Ibrahim: 39)
Allah informs us of the Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) as being "among the best of chosen men" (Surah Sad: 48) and "favored over all beings" (Surat al-An'am: 86). In addition, he is said to be a man "true to his promise and was a Messenger and a Prophet" (Surah Maryam: 54). Our Lord also reveals His pleasure with Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) to all people.
While the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was still alive, our Lord presented the Prophet Isaac (pbuh) with a son, Jacob (pbuh), who was also a sincere believer endowed with prophethood. Allah reveals that He has perfectly fulfilled His blessing on this elect servant (Surah Yusuf: 6). The Prophet Jacob (pbuh) is a blessed person, one praised for his sincere faith in Allah, and for being a sincere servant with pure remembrance of his true home in the Hereafter (Surah Sad: 46). Allah reveals the Prophet Isaac's (pbuh) and the Prophet Jacob's (pbuh) superior moral qualities in the following verses:
We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the abode. In Our eyes, they are among the best of chosen men. (Surah Sad: 46-47)
And in addition to that, We gave him [Abraham] Isaac and Jacob and made both of them righteous. We made them leaders, guiding them by Our command, and revealed to them how to do good actions, perform prayer, and give alms. And they worshipped Us. (Surat al-Anbiya: 72-73)
We gave him [Abraham] the good news of Isaac, a Prophet, one of the righteous. ( Surat as-Saffat: 112)
Allah praises in the Qur'an that the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) for turning to Allah in everything he did, his sincere and genuine prayers, and his determined faith. The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) submissive attitude in the face of all troubles and difficulties is an example for all believers. His sincere prayer for his children is a clear indication of this:
"Our Lord, I have settled some of my offspring by Your Sacred House in an uncultivated valley. Our Lord, let them perform prayer. Make the hearts of humanity incline toward them and provide them with fruits, so that, hopefully, they will be thankful." (Surah Ibrahim: 37)
Allah describes the great blessing He has placed on the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) descendents in the following terms:
"Accordingly, your Lord will pick you out and teach you the true meaning of events and perfectly fulfill His blessing on you, as well as on the family of Jacob, just as He fulfilled it perfectly before upon your forebears Abraham and Isaac. Most certainly, your Lord is Knowing, Wise." (Surah Yusuf: 6)
In other verses, Allah reveals the following information about this blessed line:
We gave him [Abraham] Isaac and Jacob, and placed prophethood and the Book among his progeny. We gave him his reward in this world, and in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. (Surat al-Ankabut: 27)
And remember Our servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, men of true strength and inner sight. We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the abode. In Our eyes, they are among the best of chosen men. (Surah Sad: 45-47)
When he [Abraham] separated himself from them and what they worshipped besides Allah, We gave him Isaac and Jacob, making each of them a prophet. We endowed them with Our mercy and made them highly honored. (Surah Maryam: 49-50)
Our Lord further informs us that He has made the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) family superior to the worlds, supported them with wisdom and the Book, and provided them with considerable assets:
Allah chose Adam and Noah, as well as the family of Abraham and the family of `Imran, over all other beings. (Surah Al 'Imran: 33)
Or do they, in fact, envy other people for the bounty Allah has granted them? We gave the family of Abraham the Book and wisdom, and We gave them an immense kingdom. (Surat an-Nisa: 54)
"Those who believe and do not mix up their faith with any wrongdoing, they are the ones who are safe; it is they who are guided." This is the argument We gave to Abraham against his tribe. We raise in rank anyone We will. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. (Surat al-An'am: 82-83)
And left the later people saying of him: "Peace be upon Abraham." That is how We recompense good-doers. Truly, he was one of Our believing servants. (Surat as-Saffat: 108-111)
Allah rewarded the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) with a pleasing, guided, and unsullied line of descent. Although his tribe was disobedient, proud, and insistent upon denying Allah, his sons, whom Allah selected as prophets, were his true legacy:
We gave him Isaac and Jacob, each of whom We guided. And before him We had guided Noah. And among his descendents were David and Solomon, Job and Joseph, Moses and Aaron. That is how We recompense the good-doers. (Surat al-An'am: 84)
The Prophet Abraham (pbuh), the Prophet Ishmael (pbuh), and the Prophet Isaac (pbuh) all called on people to believe in Allah. The Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) and the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) built the Ka`bah.
Building the Ka`bah
Allah reveals in the Qur'an that the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and the Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) built the Ka`bah. Located in Mecca, the Ka`bah was the first structure built solely to worship Allah, for:
The first House established for humanity was that at Bakka*, a place of blessing and a guidance for all beings. In it are Clear Signs—the place where Abraham stood [to pray]. All who enter it are safe. Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to Allah by all humanity—those who can find a way to do it. But if anyone does not believe, Allah is Rich Beyond Need of any being. (Surah Al 'Imran: 96-97)
These two prophets built the Ka`bah, a task that Allah had entrusted to the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), as the following verses reveal:
And We located the position of the House for Abraham: "Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My House for those who circle it and for those who stand and bow and prostrate. Announce the Pilgrimage to humanity. They will come to you on foot and on every sort of lean animal, coming by every distant road so that they can be present at what will profit them, and invoke Allah's name on specific days over livestock He has provided for them. Eat of them and feed those who are poor and in need." (Surat al-Hajj: 26-28)
Allah told the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to cleanse the Ka`bah. This may represent a physical cleaning or may have a spiritual meaning. Thus, Allah commanded that the Ka`bah be cleansed both physically and spiritually (from pagan practices). In another verse, Allah reveals the tasks He assigned to these two prophets:
And when Abraham built the foundations of the House with Ishmael: "Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (Surat al-Baqara: 127)
The Maqam Ibrahim (Station of Abraham) houses the stone that the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) used as a walkway while building the Ka`bah.
As they engaged in building the Ka`bah and thereby fulfilling their religious duty, these two prophets constantly prayed to our Lord. Following this pleasing practice, we can pray and seek Allah's help in any matter, and praise and call on His name. This is because Allah knows what is hidden in peoples' hearts, hears them at all times, and sees and knows what they do. Believers know that He will respond to their prayers, and so regard prayer as a means of drawing closer to Him. People sometimes think that prayer can only be performed at certain times or places, and therefore seek to mold it into a specific form. Yet the prophets' prayers show that believers can turn to Allah at any time (e.g., when working, going to bed, or sitting down). As there is no rule concerning this, believers may turn to Allah at all moments, recall Him in their hearts at all times, and praise our Lord with His most beautiful names.
At the end of their prayers, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and the Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) praised Allah. After stating what they sought from Him, the two prophets praised Him, expressing the fact that He knows and hears everything. This demonstrates that it is acceptable to recall His names during prayer and to use them when praying to Him. Indeed, in one verse Allah reveals that:
To Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names, so call on Him by them and abandon those who desecrate His Names. They will be repaid for what they did. (Surat al-A'raf: 180)
Believers should express the fact, as did the prophets, of Allah's greatness, that He sees and hears everything, controls everything, and is the Lord of power and wisdom. Many verses concerning the prophets' prayers shed light on how believers should actually pray.
A sacred stone inside the Mosque of Umar, which Muslims believe was used by the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) when the Ka`bah was being built.
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) Test
One of the many tests that the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had to face was that of sacrificing the Prophet Ishmael (pbuh). As Allah relates in the following verse:
And We gave him [Abraham] the good news of a forbearing boy. When he [Ishmael] was of an age to work with him, he [Abraham] said: "My son, I saw in a dream that I must sacrifice you. What do you think about this?" He said: "Do as you are ordered, father. Allah willing, you will find me patient." Then when they had both submitted and he had lain him face down on the ground, We called out to him: "Abraham! You have discharged your vision." That is how We recompense good-doers. This was indeed a most manifest trial. We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice. (Surat as-Saffat: 101-107)
In the above verses, Allah relates how He tested the Prophet Abraham (pbuh). Islamic scholars generally interpret these verses in the same way. For example, in his commentary on the Qur'an Hamdi Yazir of Elmali states that the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) saw a revelation in his dream and was told to fulfill it. He explains the relevant verses in the following terms:
"…He did not seek to do this by force. Rather, he indicated that by asking his son's views on how to bring this about, thus seeking his obedience and submission and enabling him to acquire merit in Allah's sight. One can only imagine what a great feeling of love must beat in a father's heart when he says: 'O, my dear son,' and how his great passion for duty and love for God overcame even his love for his son… That gentle-hearted son, who understood that this was Allah's command and that Allah was with those who were patient, replied: 'O, my dear father, do whatever you are commanded. By God's will, you shall find me patient."4
In his commentary, Omer Nasuhi Bilmen offers the following account:
"The Prophet Abraham and his son obeyed and submitted to Allah's command, and the Prophet Abraham (laid his [son's] head to one side) and accepted the task of cutting his throat… Understanding that his dream was a divine command, he was eager to discharge his duty, and showed great fortitude and obedience to Allah's command. Then Allah blessed him, ordering him to sacrifice an animal instead of his son, and thereby saved the Prophet Abraham from a self-sacrifice."5
The Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) and the Prophet Ishmael's (pbuh) sincere obedience, submission, and devotion to Allah can be seen clearly from these verses and commentaries. Their superior behavior is an excellent example and a matchless guide for all believers. Therefore, all believers must follow this path and become known for their scrupulous implementation of Allah's commands, and for showing strong resolution when facing troubles or difficulties and maintaining their patient and humble natures. In the following verses, Allah further reveals that:
And left the later people saying of him: "Peace be upon Abraham." That is how We recompense good-doers. He truly was one of Our believing servants. ( Surat as-Saffat: 108-11)
According to the Torah, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his wife were interred in the Machpelah cave in al-Khalil (Hebron).