Every great story starts with a great person and surely one of the greatest of people was Prophet Ibrahim (as). He was given the title Khalil-ullah, which means ‘the friend of Allah’. Ibrahim (as) was the forefather of many great prophets and is held in high esteem by all the major revealed religions. These great prophets include Suliman, Musa, Dawud, Yahya, Isa and Muhammad, Peace be upon them all. They are all from the offspring of Ibrahim (as).
Ibrahim (as) lived in a time, long before the time of prophet Muhammad (pbuh). As a boy he used to watch his father make idols. These Idols were sold in the markets as gods for people to worship. Ibrahim (as) could not believe that anyone could consider these idols, made of stone and wood, to be their gods! How could people pray to these idols and ask from them? How could they give these idols offering such as food? How could these idols bring good fortune and look over them? Ibrahim (as) was confused.
Ibrahim (as) watched the idols as a fly came and sat on it. The idol was powerless to even move the fly from its body so how could it have the power to do anything! Ibrahim (as) knew in his heart that the people of his community were deeply misguided but he didn’t know any better himself.
Ibrahim (as) often thought about his people and their worship. He thought about the world around him and how it came into being. He thought about how and why he was created. He thought about why he was here, living on this wonderful planet. He would spend some time thinking about these things and admiring the world around him.
One day he was admiring the beauty of the stars in the night sky. He thought to himself, I will worship these stars as my god they are so beautiful and bright. Then the moon came out and again he admired the beauty of the moon. The moon was shining brighter that the stars so he thought to himself, why don’t I make the moon my god instead of the stars. In the morning the sun came out and the moon and stars could no longer be seen. He thought to himself, why don’t I make the sun my god and worship the sun instead? It is beautiful and much brighter than the moon and stars.
After much reflection he decided that he would not worship the stars, the moon or the sun but instead would worship the maker of all these things. He decided there was one creator, his god, who created him and everything around him. Through this Ibrahim (as) became guided to the right path.
One day the people of his community were out celebrating. Ibrahim (as) went to the place where the idols were kept and broke them up, apart from the big one. He hung the axe around the neck of the big idol and then went away. When the people returned they were shocked, “What happened to our Idols!” they remarked. They discussed it for a while and thought that Ibrahim (as) would know because Ibrahim (as) was known to speaking out against their idols.
They decided to call Ibrahim (as) and question him about the damage done to the idols. Ibrahim (as) was brought before the community and they asked him who broke our idols. Ibrahim (as) replied, “The big idol must have done this, he has the axe around the neck, why don’t you ask it?
The people grew angry; they knew that Ibrahim (as) was being silly. The big idol doesn’t have the power to move so how can it break the other idols? The big idol doesn’t have the power to talk so how can it tell us about the broken idols? Ibrahim (as) explained to them that if these idols are powerless and cant do anything, then why do you pray to them? Why do you ask help from them when they cant even help themselves! Deep down they knew that Ibrahim (as) was correct and that they indeed were wrong by praying to these stone idols.
However, the people became very angry and decided to punish Ibrahim (as). They would punish him by lighting a huge fire and throwing him into it. They thought this was a befitting punishment for some one who disrespected their religion and broke their gods. They collected firewood from all over the county and began to prepare the bonfire. They wanted to create such a fierce and hot fire, like no one had seen before. They collected together all the material then lit it and made a huge fire. It became so hot that the birds overhead could not fly over it because of the intense heat. The people themselves could not get near the fire to throw Ibrahim (as) into it.
The Idol worshippers decided that they would build a catapult to throw Ibrahim (as) into the middle of the fire, where he would burn in the fierce heat. Ibrahim (as) remained quiet and was confident that Allah would save him. They loaded Ibrahim (as) into the catapult and pelted him into the fire. Allah commanded the fire to remain cool for Ibrahim (as) and not to harm him with its flames and heat.
This was a test for Ibrahim (as) and he remained steadfast to his faith in Allah. Allah continued to guide Ibrahim (as) throughout the rest of his life. After this incident, Ibrahim (as) moved away and got married to a lady by the name of Sarah. They lived happily for a long time. However, there was some heartache in Ibrahim (as) and Sarah’s life. They had been happily married for so long and Allah had not granted them any children. They prayed to Allah so much asking for a child.
Sarah knew that her husband, Ibrahim (as), was longing for a child. She also knew that she was getting old and may not be able to provide him with a child. She suggested to Ibrahim (as) that he should marry Hajar, their slave girl, and maybe Allah would bless them with a child through her.
Ibrahim (as) accepted the advise of his beloved wife Sarah and married Hajar. It wasn’t long before Ibrahim (as) and Hajar were blessed with a baby boy whom they named Ismael. Ibrahim (as) was overjoyed with happiness at the birth of his first son. They all celebrated and thanked Allah for such a great and beautiful blessing.
However, as they celebrated they did not know that things would change dramatically very soon. They would change so much that Ibrahim (as) would need to make a tough choice about the future of his family. What was this decision and how would it affect this innocent baby in the arms of his loving mother, Hajar…. next lesson inshallah.