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Stories of the Pious: Hazrat Ibrahim (as)

"Surely Ibrahim was an exemplar, obedient to Allah, upright, and not of the polytheists. He (Ibrahim) was grateful for His (Allah’s) favours; He chose him and guided him on the right path. And We gave him good in this world and in the next he will most surely be among the good."

(Nahl : 120-122)

Namrud b. Kinan was the king of Babylon. When his rule spread far and wide and he had gained comprehensive dominion over all people, he claimed divinity, and commanded the people to worship him. The populace in that period was in any case worshipping wooden and stone-made idols. So Namrud’s decree had the desired effect and they took him as their God and turned towards him in their worship. Thus the multitude were deviated and corrupted. This practice continued for a while until the people had completely forgotten their real Lord. It was then that Allah decided to send his great Prophet to correct the situation.

NAMRUD’S INADEQUACY

One day, one of Namrud’s astrologers disclosed (to Namrud), ‘Soon a person shall rise who will abolish idol worship and invite the people towards a new religion.’ Worried, Namrud asked, ‘Where will he be born?’ The astrologer said, ‘Here itself, however he has not been conceived as yet.’ On hearing this, Namrud immediately issued an edict separating all women from men, so as to avert the advent of that child. Namrud believed that by doing this he would put a spanner in Allah’s plans. However, despite rigid surveillance, Hazrat Ibrahim’s mother conceived him but the signs of pregnancy remained concealed. When Hazrat Ibrahim’s birth was imminent, she headed for the desert and took shelter in a cave to avoid Namrud’s sentries. Ibrahim (a.s.) was born in this cave. Indeed, even a mighty emperor like Namrud was helpless in averting this birth, and this event put to shame all his ridiculous claims.

ALLAH, THE PROVIDER

After Hazrat Ibrahim’s birth, his mother sealed the cave and returned to the town. Allah in His mercy, provided milk for Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) through his fingers and endowed nourishment for him in the milk. It is narrated that Ibrahim (a.s.) grew up in this state till he was thirteen. He then returned to his house in the city with his mother.

HAZRAT IBRAHIM (A.S.)’S INVITATION

In the city of Babylon, there lived a man ‘Aazar’, who was a paternal uncle of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and a renowned idol maker. His sons sold idols prepared by their father. Ibrahim (a.s.) used to tie a noose round the neck of all the idols, and take them to the market, by dragging them irreverently along the dirt and filth on the road. He then gathered the people and declared, ‘O people! These idols are for sale. Come and purchase these idols, which neither benefit you nor harm you, and neither possess life nor intellect.’

Understandably, when Aazar saw this he was very upset. He made every effort to make Ibrahim (a.s.) understand, but to no avail. Finally, Aazar in a fit of rage, imprisoned Ibrahim (a.s.). Even then, Ibrahim (a.s.) used to invite his paternal uncle towards the unity of Allah (Tauheed). However, Azaar only rebuked Ibrahim (a.s.) and ultimately drove him (a.s.) away. But this did not dampen Hazrat Ibrahim’s (a.s.) spirits. He persisted in his propagation with the same determination and remained firm in his resolve to guide the nation. In order to make the people realize the absurdity of idol worship Ibrahim (a.s.) used to ask the people, ‘Who do you worship?’ The people responded, ‘We worship our creator, the idol. We seek our demands from it and redress our grievances through it. Ibrahim (a.s.) asked, ‘Can these idols hear you? Are they of any benefit or detriment to you? The people replied, ‘No! We only worship idols because we found our forefathers doing the same.’ Ibrahim (a.s.) said, ‘You, as well as your forefathers, very well knew that these idols, carved of wood and stone, can neither profit nor harm you. This disqualifies them from worship, making them unworthy of veneration. Worship, in fact, should be done of the one Who has created you, sustains you, cures you of your ailments, gives life and causes death.

However all this talk only evoked more hostility and the people ridiculed Ibrahim (a.s.). One day, Ibrahim (a.s.) conceived a plan. It was the occasion of Eid. The people left the city to observe their festivities. But Ibrahim (a.s.) stayed back. When all had left, he (a.s.) went to a temple and broke all the idols, save one, which was the largest. When the people returned and saw all the smashed idols, they were enraged, and did not have to think very far to guess the culprit. They rushed to Ibrahim (a.s.) and demanded, ‘Are you responsible for the plight our gods?’ Ibrahim (a.s.) replied, ‘The biggest idol has done it. You can ask him.’ The people were incensed and said, ‘Idols can not speak.’ On this Ibrahim (a.s.) declared, ‘Then why worship somebody who is of no good to you?’

The people were very upset and decided to hurl Ibrahim (a.s.) in the fire as a punishment of his deed. They all thought that setting ablaze Ibrahim (a.s.) was a virtuous act and every person from that nation participated in tossing Ibrahim (a.s.) in the fire. The inferno prepared for Ibrahim (a.s.) was so gigantic, that the flames were touching the sky. It was blazing so fiercely that its heat could be felt miles away. None dared to approach it. So much so, that the people had to employ a catapult to throw Ibrahim (a.s.) in the fire. In mid-air, Jibraeel (a.s.) approached Ibrahim (a.s.) and volunteered, ‘Do you need help? Ibrahim (a.s.) replied, ‘Not from you, but from Allah.’ Saying this Ibrahim (a.s.) raised his hands to invoke Allah and beseeched, ‘O Allah! Protect me from the fire!’ Allah ordered the fire,

"We said, ‘O fire! Cool down for Ibrahim (a.s.) and protect him!"

(Anbiya: 69)

The blazing inferno was transformed into a beautiful garden. On witnessing the spectacle, people were stunned. After this miracle, some believed in him, but the rich and greedy persisted in their disbelief and idolatry.
This incident had made it amply clear to Namrud, that Ibrahim (a.s.) enjoyed divine support and he could do the latter no harm. Consequently, he banished Ibrahim (a.s.) who was forced to migrate towards Shaam (Syria) and Baitul Muqaddas (Jerusalem). His wife Sarah and Hazrat Lut (a.s.) accompanied him.

HAZRAT ISMAIL AND HAZRAT ISHAQ (PEACE BE ON BOTH)

"Say (all of you), ‘We believe in Allah and what has been revealed unto us and what was revealed on Ibrahim and Ismaeel and Ishaaq…"

(Baqarah: 136)

Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) and Hazrat Ishaaq (a.s.) were both sons of Ibrahim (a.s.). The former was born from Janabe Haajira, the latter from Janabe Sarah.

After passage of many years, when Janabe Sarah thought that she would not be able to grant an issue to Ibrahim (a.s.), she asked her husband to marry her slave girl, Haajira. When his second wife Janabe Haajirah gave birth to a son viz. Ismail (a.s.), Ibrahim (a.s.) was exhilarated. But Janabe Sarah was aggrieved. Gradually this grief took an ugly shape and developed into intense envy towards Janabe Haajirah. So much so, that she told Ibrahim (a.s.) to deport Haajirah and Ismail (a.s.) to a far flung place where she would never see them again. Ibrahim (a.s.) in accordance with Allah’s command and Janabe Sarah’s request set out with them to a distant land. They walked for a while and when they reached Mecca, Ibrahim (a.s.) halted as per Allah’s command. He abandoned them there and returned to his place.

Janabe Haajirah and Ismail (a.s.) were completely isolated in that desert. There was no trace of any food and water. The place was completely barren and there was not even a single tree. They were all alone with only the blazing sun for company. However, Ibrahim (a.s.) had inculcated the important lessons of patience and steadfastness in Janabe Haajirah (a.s.), and the latter put them to proper effect, to survive in that scorching desert. After a few days, all food and water, (that was provided by Ibrahim (a.s.)) was exhausted. Mother and son were overcome with hunger and thirst. Ismail (a.s.) in particular, was restless. Janabe Haajirah could not bear to see her child like this, and she set out in quest for some water but returned after some time unsuccessful. Ismail (a.s.), the infant, was losing his patience by the minute. So Janabe Haajirah set out once again in search of water. And once again she met with failure. She repeated her attempts several times. After numerous endeavours, once when she returned to her son, to her utter amazement, she saw a spring gush forth from below her son’s feet. She was left speechless in her astonishment and awe. She took some water from the spring and gave it to her thirsty son, so he could soak his parched throat with it. She then quenched her own thirst. When the birds saw that spring, they started hovering over it. Far away, a tribe named, Bani Jarham, on seeing the birds circling in the sky, guessed that some water was available. They thanked Allah for the bounty of water, in the barren desert.