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Merits of Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) and his perfect Morals

Hayat Al-Qulub Vol. 1,
By: Allamah Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi

Through authentic chains it is narrated from Imam Musa ibn Ja‘far that Ibrahim was fifteen years old when he acquired perfect morals and divine recognition. It is related from the Holy Prophet that, “I would be the first one to be summoned on the Resurrection Day and I shall go and stand on the right of the throne. I would be made to wear a green garment of Paradise. Then my forefather Ibrahim and my brother ‘Ali shall be summoned. They would stand on the right side of the throne under its shade and would also be given green garments of Paradise. A caller will raise a cry in front of the Divine Throne: “O Muhammad! How virtuous is your forefather Ibrahim and how virtuous is your brother, ‘Ali.”
Authentic tradition from Imam Musa ibn Ja‘far says, “The Almighty Allah has required four things from everyone. He has appointed Ibrahim, Dawud and Musa for Jihad and sword fighting and he has appointed me for dwellers of house, as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an that Allah gave superiority to Adam, Nuh, the family of Ibrahim and the family of ‘Imran over the whole world.
Amir al-Mu’minin says that Ibrahim is from those Prophets who were born circumcised. And he was the first one to command the people regarding circumcision.
According to authentic traditions Ibrahim is the first person who hosted guests and got grey hair in his beard. He asked the Almighty as to what it was. The Almighty revealed, “It is the dignity of this world and the light (noor) of the hereafter.” In certain ayats the Almighty has referred to Ibrahim as his ‘Khalil’ (friend). ‘Khalil’ is one who does not allow any type of ‘Khalal’ (deficiency) in fulfilling the rights of friendship. In this way the Almighty appointed him as His friend. Many traditions have been mentioned in this regard. One of such traditions is related through reliable sources from Imam al-Ridha.
The Almighty Allah appointed Ibrahim as His friend because he did not spun the request of anyone and himself never asked anyone but Allah.
According to correct chains Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is reported to have said, “The Almighty Allah made Ibrahim His friend because he prostrated much (for Allah).”
Reliable sources report Imam ‘Ali al-Naqi said that Allah appointed Ibrahim as His friend because he frequently recited Salawaat on Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. According to the Holy Prophet Allah made Ibrahim His Khalil because he used to feed the people and pray at night when people were asleep.[53]
A reliable report from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir says, “When Allah the Almighty appointed Ibrahim as His Khalil, He sent a handsome youth in white garments - who was actually the angel of death - to convey the good news to Ibrahim When he came to deliver the good news, oil and water was dripped from his hair. When Ibrahim returned home he saw someone leaving his house. Now Ibrahim was a very modest person. Whenever he went out he used to shut his door, lock it and carry the keys with him. That day he had gone on some errand when upon his return he saw this young man standing in his house. He said, ‘Creature of Allah! Who gave you permission to enter my house?’
‘The Master of the house,’ replied the man.
‘Indeed my Master has a greater right than me. But who are you?’ asked Ibrahim ‘I am the angel of death.’
Ibrahim became afraid. ‘Have you come to capture my soul?’ He asked.
‘No! The Almighty has appointed a certain person as His friend. I have come to convey this good news to him.’
‘Who is that fortunate person? May be I shall spend my life in his service,’ asked Ibrahim.
‘Ibrahim, you are that fortunate one.’ When Ibrahim heard this he was exhilarated. He rushed to Sarah and said, ‘Allah has appointed me as His Khalil.’”
Through reliable reporters we have a traditions from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that he said, “When the Almighty sent angels, His messenger to destroy the people of Lut, Ibrahim brought for them roasted meat of calf. They said, ‘We shall not partake of it until you inform us of its cost.’
Ibrahim said, ‘Recite Bismillah (In the name of Allah) before you begin and Alhamdolillah (Praise be to Allah) after you finish. This is the compensation.’”
Archangel Gabriel told four of his deputies: “Ibrahim deserves that Allah appoint him as His Khalil.”
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says that when Ibrahim was thrown into the fire Archangel Gabriel met him in the air as he was descending towards the inferno. Archangel Gabriel asked him if he had any wishes.
“Not from you!” said Ibrahim
Another authentic tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says: Ibrahim was the first person for whom the desert sand turned into flour. It was when he had gone to Egypt to one of his friends to borrow some food grains, but did not find him home. Ibrahim did not like that he should take back his beasts of burden empty. So he filled the sacks with sand. When he reached home, he sent the loaded animals inside to Sarah and he went to sleep in a secluded place. Sarah opened the sacks to find the best quality flour. She prepared leavened breads and carried them to Ibrahim.
“Where did you get there breads from?” asked Ibrahim.
“They are prepared from the same flour that you brought from your Egyptian friend.”
“Indeed one who gave me this flour is my friend but not that Egyptian friend (Khalil),” said Ibrahim. It was for this reason that Allah appointed him as His Khalil.
Thus Ibrahim thanked the Almighty and consumed his food.
According to an authentic tradition of Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq on the Resurrection Day Muhammad al-Mustafa shall be summoned, given a pink dress and made to stand at the right of the throne (the Holy Throne). Then Ibrahim would be summoned, given a white garment and made to stand on the left of the throne (the Holy Throne). Then ‘Ali will be called, given a crimson garment and made to stand at the right of the Holy Prophet. Isma‘il would be called, given a white garment and made to stand as the right of Ibrahim. After this Imam Al-Hasan shall be summoned. He would be given a crimson dress and made to stand on the right of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali. Next, Imam al-Husayn shall be called, offered a crimson garment and made to stand at the right of Imam Al-Hasan, One by one all the Imams shall be called, made to dress in a red garment and stand to the right of their respective predecessors. After this the Shi‘ahs of the Imams shall be summoned and made to stand facing them. Finally, Fatimah al-Zahra’ will come with the women and children of their Shi‘ahs and they would enter Paradise in large numbers. Then by the command of Allah, a crier will call out from the middle of the Holy Throne: O Muhammad! How virtuous is your forefather Ibrahim and your brother ‘Ali, how virtuous he is! And how virtuous are your grandsons; Hasan and Husayn. And how virtuous is your grandson, Mohsin who was martyred in the womb, and Imam Zayn al-‘abidin until the last Imam - how meritorious is your progeny! How virtuous are the guiding Imams and how fortunate your Shi‘ahs. Indeed! Muhammad, his legatee (‘Ali) and their progeny of holy Imams - all of them are the successful ones.”
Then they shall be made to enter Paradise. This is the interpretation of the Almighty’s statement, “Those who are removed far from Hell-fire and made to enter the gate of Paradise. Indeed they are the successful ones.”
It is related from Imam Al-Hasan that Ibrahim had a broad chest and high forehead.
The Messenger of Allah is quoted to have said that “Whosoever desires to see Ibrahim, should look at me.” A authentic tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says that prior to Ibrahim people never had gray beard. One day Ibrahim notice a white hair in his beard. ‘What is this?’ Ibrahim asked his Lord. The Almighty revealed that it was a mark of dignity.
“My lord! Increase me in dignity,” prayed Ibrahim.
By authentic chains Imam Muhammad al-Baqir says, “Ibrahim awoke one morning to find a gray hair in his beard.”
“Alhamdolillah (Praise be to Allah)!” he exclaimed, “that He has made me reach this age and I have not disobeyed Him even for a blink of an eye.”
According to a reliable tradition from Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali in the ancient times no matter how old a person became he never had any gray hair either in his beard or his head. If sons, fathers and grandfathers gathered at a place no one could distinguish among them. Strangers had to enquire as to who the father was and who the son was. When Ibrahim prayed to the Almighty to bestow him with a sign by which he could be distinguished, the hair of his beard and head turned gray.
In a certified tradition, Muhammad bin Arfa asked Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq, “There are some people who assert that after executing his own circumcision, Ibrahim threw the scalpel in a pond?”
“It is not so!” said Imam, “These people make allegations regarding a Prophet. The foreskin of the Prophets and the stub of umbilical cord fall away on the seventh day of their birth.”
Another tradition says that Ibrahim was very particular in entertaining guests. One day some guests arrived while he had nothing to offer them. Ibrahim thought that if he sold some wood to the wood cutter he would carve idols from it so that was out of question. Meanwhile he housed the guests in the guest room. Then taking a bag with him he went to the desert and prayed two Rak’ahs (units) prayers. After the prayers he found the bag missing. Upon his return he found Sarah cooking something. He asked her as to how she had obtained the ingredients. She said they were the same that a person delivered on his directions. Actually the Almighty had ordered Archangel Gabriel to pick up the bag where Ibrahim had prayed and to fill it with sand and stones. Then He converted the sand into clean Bajra flour, the round stones into beetroot and the elongated stones into carrots.
A reliable tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says that, “Whenever one of you returns from a journey he should bring whatever he could afford for his family, even if they be mere stones. Because whenever Ibrahim was in straitened circumstances he went to his people. If they had similar condition he returned. One day he was returning empty-handed. As he neared home he got down from his mule and filled the carry bag with sand to avoid embarrassment in front of Sarah . Then he entered the house, and putting down the bag started his prayers. Sarah untied the bag and found it filled with flour. She took out the flour, kneaded it and prepared bread. Then she called Ibrahim for his meal. Seeing the bread he inquired from where she obtained them. “From the flour you had brought,” replied Sarah . Ibrahim raised his head towards the sky and said, “I witness that you alone are Khalil.”
Moreover, the Almighty has referred to Ibrahim in Qur’an as ‘Burda’. According to traditions it means a person who supplicates much.
Another authentic tradition says that there was a time when only a single believer remained on the face of the earth. As mentioned by Allah, Surely Ibrahim was an exemplar, obedient to Allah, upright, and he was not of the polytheists. (16:120)
Imam says that if there had been any other believer, Allah would have mentioned him with Ibrahim (when He referred to him as ‘a nation’).
The situation continued for a long time until the Almighty bestowed Ibrahim with Isma‘il and Ishaq. Allah inculcated love in their hearts. The number of worshippers (of Allah) became three.
According to a reliable narration from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq before appointing Ibrahim as his Prophet, He made him His servant. He appointed him Prophet before appointing him as His messenger (Rasul). He designated him as His messenger before appointing him as the Imam. Ibrahim realized the high status of Imam and asked Allah if He has appointed anyone from his progeny for the post of Imamate. The Almighty replied that His covenant (of Imamate and vicegerency) shall not reach the unjust.
Imam further explains that a foolish person cannot become the Imam of the pious and righteous people.
A reliable tradition from the sixth Imam says that the first one to wear sandals was Ibrahim.
A similar authentic hadith of Imam al-Baqir says that until the period of Ibrahim, death occurred without a cause. Ibrahim requested the Almighty to create some cause of death, so that those who suffer its pain can be recompensed and the survivors get some solace. So the Almighty first sent pleurisy and delirium. These were followed by other kinds of diseases.
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is quoted in a reliable tradition that Ibrahim was the father of guests. That is, he was very fond of entertaining guests. Whenever he did not have any guest to join him for dinner he used to go out in search of a guest. One day when he returned home he saw a youth in his house.
“Who permitted you to enter my house, O creature of Allah?” asked Ibrahim. The youths repeated thrice, “The absolute Master of this house.” Ibrahim understood that it was Archangel Gabriel and there he recited the Praise of Allah.
Archangel Gabriel said, “Your Lord has sent me with glad tidings for a fortunate person whom He has appointed as His Khalil.” “Tell me, who it is. So that I can spent my life in his service,” requested Ibrahim. “You are that fortunate one. “said Archangel Gabriel “Why am I appointed ‘Khalil?” asked Ibrahim.
“Because you neither request anyone of favors nor fail to fulfill the needs of others,” explained Archangel Gabriel.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir says in a reliable tradition, “One day Ibrahim went to stroll in the town and derive some lessons from the creatures of Allah. Wandering through the town he reached wilderness and saw a man standing up in prayers. His voice was reaching the sky and his dress stuck close to his body. Ibrahim stood there in amazement and watched him pray. Then he sat down near waiting for him to conclude the prayers. A long time passed. At last Ibrahim nudged him with his hand saying that he had a request from him and should shorten his prayers. The person concluded the prayers and turned towards Ibrahim.
“For whom do you offer prayers?” asked Ibrahim “For the God of Ibrahim.”
“Who is the God of Ibrahim?”
“The One who has created you and I.”
“I like your way,” said Ibrahim, “I wish to make you my brother for Allah’s pleasure. Tell me, where do you live? So that whenever I wish, I can pay you a visit.”
“You cannot reach the place,” said the worshipper, because it is across a stream that you cannot traverse.”
“How do you cross it?” asked Ibrahim.
“I walk on the surface of water.” Replied the man.
Ibrahim said, “May be, the One who has solidified water for you, can do the same for me? Rise up. Let us go we shall spend the night together.”
So they set out. When they reached the bank of the river the worshipper uttered ‘Bismillah’ (in the name of Allah) and started walking on the surface of the stream. Ibrahim too uttered ‘Bismillah’ and followed. The person was amazed. When they reached his house Ibrahim asked him the source of his livelihood.
“I collect the fruit of this tree, all the year round,” he replied, “and that is my livelihood.”
“Which is the most difficult day?” asked Ibrahim.
“The day when the Almighty would recompense the deeds of all His creatures.”
“Come let us pray to Allah, to save us from the afflictions of that day,” said Ibrahim There is a variation in another tradition wherein Ibrahim suggests, ‘You supplicate and I say ‘Amen.’ Or ‘I supplicate and you say ‘Amen’.
“What for?” asked the worshipper.
“For the sinners among the believers,” replied Ibrahim.
The worshipper refused and when asked the reason he said that he was praying for a particular thing for the past three years and his prayers have not been answered so far. “I feel ashamed of requesting Allah for something. Because He may not oblige me,” he explained.
Ibrahim said, “Whenever Allah loves a person, He saves his supplications, so that the supplicant would continue to plead and invocate Him. And when He hates a person He either fulfils his wishes instantly or instills despair so that he would stop invocating.”
The Ibrahim asked him as to what was his need that he continues to invocate Allah.
The worshipper said, “One day while busy in prayers at my usual place, I saw a handsome boy pass by. A light shone his forehead and his tresses flowed on his back. He was grazing some cows with such shiny skins, as if anointed with oil. He also had well-fed and healthy sheep. I was elated at the sight and asked him, “O young man. To whom do these cows and sheep belong?”
“They are mine,” replied the boy.
“Who are you?” asked I.
“I am Isma‘il, the son of Ibrahim the Khalil of Allah.”
At that moment I prayed to Allah that He allow me to see His friend (Khalil).”
“I am Ibrahim, the Khalil of the Beneficent (Rahman) and that boy is my son.”
“Alhamdo lillahe Rabbil A’lameen (Praise be to Allah the Lord of the worlds),” said the worshipper, “He has granted my prayers!”
Then he kissed the cheeks of Ibrahim and putting his arms around his neck said, “Now you supplicate and I’ll say ‘Amen’.”
So Ibrahim supplicated Allah for the believers from that time unto the Resurrection Day and requested Allah to condone their sins and to be satisfied with them. The worshipper recited ‘Amen’ on his invocations. Imam al-Baqir says that the complete prayer of Ibrahim is effective for our erring Shi‘ahs right up to the Resurrection Day.
It is mentioned in some narrations that the name of this worshipper was Maria the son of Aws. He lived for six hundred and sixty years.
Birth of Ibrahim and his upbringing… until the time of the breaking of the idols; An account of his confrontation with the tyrant rulers of his time Good, or rather, correct chains of narrators quote Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq to have said that Azar the son of Canaan was the father of Ibrahim. He was the court astrologer of Nimrod. He told Nimrod that according to the position of the stars a man shall be born in this period. He would falsify this religion and invite people towards a new faith.
“Where would he take birth?” asked Nimrod.
“In this town,” said Azar.
Nimrod’s palace was situated in Kosaria a district of al-Kufah. Nimrod asked if that person has already taken birth.
“No,” replied Azar.
Nimrod said that it would be better if men and women are separated, and he issued commands for the same. But the mother of Ibrahim conceived him although the pregnancy was not apparent. When the term neared completion, Ibrahim’s mother told Azar that she thought she was suffering from some disease or menstruating, hence it was advisable that she separated from her husband for some days. It was a custom of that period that whenever the women became sick or had monthly periods they used to live away from their husbands. Thus she left the house and went to a cave. Ibrahim was born there. She wrapped him in a cloth and left him inside the cave. Then closing the mouth of the cave with a stone she returned home. The Almighty caused milk to flow from the thumb of Ibrahim and he sucked at it (deriving nutrition).
Once in a while his mother came to visit him. Since Nimrod had appointed surveillance on every pregnant woman, any male child that arrived in this world was immediately killed. It was for this reason that Ibrahim’s mother left him in the cave. Ibrahim grew up fast. In one day he grew as much as other children grew in a month. Thus he grew up to be a lad of thirteen years. One day when his mother came to visit him he hugged her and pleaded to be taken out. She told him that if the King learnt that he was born in this period he would kill him. When the mother left him, he came out of the cave himself after the sunset. The star al-Zahra’ was shinning on the sky. Upon seeing it, Ibrahim said, “Is it my Lord?” But when it set, he said, “It could not be my Lord, or it wouldn’t have moved and disappeared.”
Then the Sun arose from the east Ibrahim wondered, “It is bigger than al-Zahra’, is this my Lord?” But when it moved and declined he said, “If it had been my Lord it would not have moved or disappeared. I am not impressed with those who decline.” Now the Moon arose from the East and Ibrahim said “Is this my Lord? For it is much bigger than al-Zahra’.” But the Moon also declined and disappeared. Ibrahim said, “If my Lord had not protected me, I would have surely strayed from the right path.”
Again when it was daybreak and the sun illuminated the earth with its rays, Ibrahim said, “This is better and bigger than the others. Is this my Lord?” However the sun also moved, and gradually declined and the Almighty spread open the skies. Ibrahim saw the firmament with all the heavenly bodies and the Almighty showed him the creatures of the heavens and the earth. Ibrahim said, “O my people! I dissociate with those whom you consider as associates of Allah. I have turned towards the One who created the heavens and the earth by light. I am of those who reject the false religion and move towards the correct faith. I am not from the polytheists.”
Ibrahim was taken to the house of Azar by his mother. She left him with her other sons. When Azar came home and saw Ibrahim, he asked as to who that boy was that survived the king’s order for killing all male children.
“It is your son, he was born when I was living separately,” said Ibrahim’s mother.
“Shame on you!” chided Azar, “If the king learns of it I shall lose my prestige.”
Actually Azar was a minister of Nimrod and possessed substantial power. He was also a professional idol-maker. After preparing idols he sent them with his sons to the market. The idol temple was also under his control. Ibrahim’s mother said that there was no risk if the king is not informed about it. “My son will remain with me, safe and sound.” She said, “And even if he comes to know of it, I will pacify him.”
Whenever Azar looked at Ibrahim, his heart filled with fatherly love. Later he began to entrust Ibrahim with idols for sale, as was his practice with his other sons. Ibrahim used to tie the heads of idols with a rope and drag them all the way saying, “Who would buy them, when they can neither cause harm nor profit.”
He also caught the hair of idols and ducked its head in water saying, “Drink it! And say something.”
The brothers reported all this to Azar. He summoned Ibrahim and warned him not to repeat it. But since the admonition produced no effect Azar locked up Ibrahim in the house.
According to a reliable tradition of Imam Musa Ibn Ja‘far, Ibrahim was born on the 1st of Dhu’l-hijjah.
A authentic tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says, “Ibrahim’s father was Azar the son of Canaan. He was the court astrologer of Nimrod. Nimrod did not move a step without seeking counsel of Azar. One night Azar studied the position of the stars and told Nimrod, ‘I saw a strange thing last night.’
Nimrod was surprised and asked him what it was. Azar said, ‘I have learnt that a boy is to take birth in our country and that he would destroy us all. And his mother shall conceive him in the near future.’ Nimrod was amazed and asked if he has made some woman pregnant.
Azar had learnt through Astrology that the same boy was going to be burnt in fire but he did not know that he would be saved by the Almighty.
Nimrod ordered that women be separated from men. All the men should leave their women and go out of town. Ibrahim was conceived that very night. His father suspected the conception and he called for experienced women to examine if his wife was pregnant. But the Almighty made the fetus stick to the back of Ibrahim’s mother and therefore none of the symptoms were apparent. The nurses told Azar that his wife was definitely not pregnant. When Ibrahim was born his father decided to take him to Nimrod, but his wife restrained him saying that the king would kill her son.
‘Leave him to me. I shall take him to a cave and abandon him there. He will soon perish and thus you won’t be an accomplice in its murder.’
Azar agreed and Ibrahim’s mother took him to a cave. After suckling him she left him inside and closed the mouth of the cave with a boulder. The Almighty Allah caused his sustenance to flow from his thumb. He sucked his thumb and consumed the milk that flew from it. He grew up faster than ordinary children did. His growth in a day was equal to a week’s growth in other children. In a week he grew as much as other’s grew in a month. And in a month his body developed as much as a year.
After some days his mother took leave of Azar and came to the cave. She saw that Ibrahim was alive and his eyes shone like brilliant lamps. She embraced him and gave him suck. When she returned the father asked her about Ibrahim. She said that it has died. ‘I have buried him,’ she wept.
Now whenever Azar left home for a considerable time his wife went to the cave and suckled Ibrahim. This continued for quite some time. When Ibrahim was able to crawl on his knees and his mother had come to feed him, he clung to her and pleaded she take him with her. ‘Have patience!’ said the mother. ‘Let me take your father’s permission.’
During the period of occultation, Ibrahim kept himself hidden and also concealed the affair of faith. When the Almighty permitted, he appeared and began to propagate religion in public. Allah .”
In another tradition of the Holy Prophet, the parents of Ibrahim escaped from the dominion of the tyrant. Ibrahim was born on the bank of Kharzan at the foot of some hillocks. He was born between sunset and nightfall.” When Ibrahim touched the ground he rubbed his eyes and recited a number of times, “Ash-hado alla-ilaaha illallah” (I testify that there is no god except Allah). Then he picked up some clothes and put them on. Seeing this his mother was terrified. Ibrahim stood up before his mother and looked towards the sky. Then he used the symbolism of heavenly bodies to prove the existence of his Lord, as mentioned in Qur’an.
According to ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim, Ibrahim restrained his people from idol-worship and also tried to convince them through logical arguments and completed the proof. But the people refused to accept. At last on the day of feast, Nimrod and all his people went out of the town for celebrating the occasion at the grounds outside the limits of the city. Ibrahim refused to accompany them, so they left him to mind the idols of the temple. When the people departed, Ibrahim took some food to the temple. He offered the food to each idol in turn and exhorted them to say something. When there was no reply he took the axe and chopped off the hands and legs of all the idols and then hung the axe around the neck of the largest idol that stood in the centre. When the king, his army and the people returned, they beheld the broken statues. “Whoever has done this to our god has indeed committed injustice upon him. He shall be executed!” they said.
“It must be Ibrahim the son of Azar,” suggested the people, “He alone is critical of the gods.”
Ibrahim was brought to Nimrod. Nimrod accused Azar for breach of trust as he had concealed the existence of Ibrahim.
“It is the handiwork of his mother, O king!” protested Azar, “She says that she has a convincing argument.” Nimrod summoned Ibrahim’s mother and said, “Why did you conceal this boy? See what he has done to our gods!” “O King!” replied the mother of Ibrahim, “I acted in this manner for the good of your people, when I saw that you were killing all their progeny I decided that if my son would be the one predicted by astrology I would hand him over to you and thus the rest of the children would be spared. If he did not happen to be the predicted one I would be able to keep my son. Now this boy is in your hands. Do whatever you want with him.” Nimrod was pleased with the argument and considered it valid. Then he asked Ibrahim who had committed the act?
Ibrahim said that the largest one has performed the deed and they can ask them if the idols could speak. After receiving Ibrahim’s reply, Nimrod consulted his people. They all suggested that Ibrahim be roasted alive for the sake of their deities. According to Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq Nimrod and his cohorts were of illegitimate birth, therefore they were swift to take the decision of killing Ibrahim. Whereas, the Pharaoh and his companions were legitimate because they ordered the release of Musa and his brother (Harun); and invited the sorcerers to compete with Musa. They didn’t issue immediate orders for their execution, because no one undertakes the killing of a Prophet or an Imam, except the illegitimate persons.
Thus, Ibrahim was put under arrest and wood was collected for burning him alive. On the appointed day Nimrod came with the army. A high platform was constructed for him to view the execution. Ibrahim was brought, but such was the intensity of the fire that no one could summon the courage to put him in it. The roaring fire scorched even the birds that flew a parasang above it.
Satan came to the people and taught them the technique of catapult. Ibrahim was made to sit in the catapult. Azar came to him, slapped him and said, “Give up your beliefs!”
Ibrahim did not accept. A cry of protest arose from the heaven and the earth. All the creation of the world expressed their wish to assist Ibrahim.
“O Lord! there is no worshipper upon you except Ibrahim. Would allow him to be burnt?” asked the earth.
The Angels said, “People are about to incinerate your Khalil!”
“If he calls Me for help, I would definitely oblige,” said the Lord.
Archangel Gabriel said, “Apart from your Khalil, Ibrahim there is no one to worship You on the earth. You have allowed his enemies to suppress him and burn him alive?”
“Keep quiet!” said Allah, “Only they utter such things, those who fear that some matters would be beyond their control. He is My servant. I can save him any moment. If he supplicates Me, I will accept his prayers.”
Ibrahim prayed to his Lord with utmost sincerity, “Yaa Allaho, Yaa Wahido, Yaa Ah’ado, Yaa man lam yalid wa lam yoolad walam yakullahu kofowwan Ah’ad. Najjaini minannaare be Rah’mateka.”
Ibrahim shot out from the catapult and was in mid-air when Archangel Gabriel met him and asked him if he had my wish. He said that he had nothing to ask from him. Archangel Gabriel handed him a ring upon which was engraved, “La ilaaha illallaho Muhammadur Rasulullahe anjaato Z’ahri ilallaahe wa asnadto amri wafawwaz “to amri ilallaah.” Almighty Allah revealed to the fire, “Be cool!” It became so cold that the teeth of Ibrahim began to chatter. Allah added, “And peace upon Ibrahim ”
Archangel Gabriel arrived and sat down to converse with Ibrahim. They were surrounded by blooms. When Nimrod witnessed this spectacle he remarked, “If anyone wishes to believe in a God he should believe in a God like that of Ibrahim.”
Just then one of the dignitaries of Nimrod court said, “I had put the fire under oath, not to scorch Ibrahim.” Immediately, a fiery mace shot out from the fire and hit the wicked man and burnt him to ashes. Nimrod saw that Ibrahim was sitting amidst greenery engaged in conversation with an elderly person. “What a great position your son has in the eyes of his Lord!” Nimrod told Azar. The lizard blew at the fire and the frog threw water to douse it. And when the Almighty had revealed “Be cool” all the fires of the world were bereft of any heat for three days in a row.
It is narrated from ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim that when Nimrod has Ibrahim thrown into the fire, and the fire became cool and peace for him and he came out unscathed, Nimrod asked him, “O Ibrahim! Who is your Lord?”
“He is the One who gives life and death.”
“I give life and cause death,” claimed Nimrod. Ibrahim asked him how he gave life and death. In response Nimrod, the accursed, summoned two prisoners who had been sentenced to death. He put one of them to death and set the other free.
Ibrahim told Nimrod, “If what you claim is true, bring back to life the one whom you have killed. And my Lord causes the sun to rise from the east, you bring it out from the west.”
The infidel was speechless and vanquished.
Various authentic chains mention that Imam al-Ridha said: When Ibrahim was put on the catapult, Archangel Gabriel became angry. The Almighty Allah asked him through revelation as to what it was that had angered him. Archangel Gabriel said, “Lord Almighty! Ibrahim is your Khalil, and he is the solitary person on earth who worships you with a belief in your oneness. You have allowed Your and his enemies to gain the upper hand.”
“Keep quiet!” commanded the Lord, “Only people like you become impatient, those who think that circumstances will go beyond their control. Ibrahim is My servant. I can save him whenever I want.” Archangel Gabriel was pleased at this and he came to Ibrahim and asked, “Do you have any wishes?”
“No!” said Ibrahim.
Allah sent for him a ring engraved with the following words:Lailaaha illallah Muh’ammedon rasoolullah. La hawla wa laa quwwata illa billah fawaz”z”aito amri ilallaah wa asnadto amri ilallaahe h’asbiyallaaho.
And revealed, “Wear the ring so that I make the fire cool and peaceful for you.”
A reliable tradition mentions that people asked Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq, “When Musa bin ‘Imran was confronted by the staves and ropes of magicians, he was fearful, whereas when Ibrahim was put on the catapult he was absolutely composed and fearless.”
Imam explained, “Ibrahim had faith in the light of Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatimah, hasan, husayn and the Imams from the progeny husayn that he carried in his backbone. On the other hand Musa did not carry that light, therefore he was afraid.”
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is quoted in a reliable tradition that he said, “Four rulers had dominion over the whole earth in their reigns. Two of them were believers, Sulayman and Dhu’l-Qarnayn, and two were infidels Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod.”
It is quoted from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that the first catapult to be constructed was that for Ibrahim. It was built in al-Kufah on the bank of river Kosaar, in the village of Qantana. Satan was the architect of the said catapult. And when Ibrahim was put upon it Archangel Gabriel came to him said, “Peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah, O Ibrahim. Do you have any wishes?”
Ibrahim declined and the Almighty God ordered the fire to cool down.
In an authentic tradition Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is reported to have said that when the inferno was lighted to burn Ibrahim all the animals of the earth complained to the Almighty and asked for divine permission to douse the fire. Allah did not permit anyone except the frog. Two third of the fire burnt out and only one-third remained.
In another tradition is recorded the wisdom of the gnat. Though gnat itself is the food of other birds, it was made to degrade Nimrod, who had transgressed against Allah and rejected His Lordship. The Almighty subjected Nimrod to be subdued by a puny gnat in order to manifest His Power and Greatness. The gnat entered the nose and brought about his death.
According to an authentic hadith of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali, Ibrahim was flung into the fire on a Wednesday, and the same day Allah subjected Nimrod to the gnat.[54]
Most of the historians have recorded that after being saved from the ravages of fire, Ibrahim invited Nimrod towards the true religion. The tyrant Nimrod said, “I will fight your Lord.”
A day was fixed for the purpose and Nimrod arrived with a huge army. Ibrahim stood facing them all alone. Then the Almighty Allah sent a horde of mosquitoes that darkened the atmosphere. They attacked the advancing army and clung to their heads and entered their nostrils. The army retreated and Nimrod had to return dejected and ashamed. Yet he did not accept belief. The Almighty ordered a puny mosquito to enter Nimrod’s head. The mosquito obliged, and once inside, began to feed upon the brain of Nimrod. Nimrod became so restless that he appointed four servants to strike his head with maces in the hope it will relieve him from the terrible pain. He remained in that condition for forty years, but did not accept faith. At last he was consigned to the Hell-fire.
An authentic tradition of Imam Musa ibn Ja‘far states that there is a Valley in Hell, called Saqar. It has not taken even a single breathe since its inception. If the Almighty permits it to breathe even as little as the eye of the needle, it will scorch everything on the face of the earth. The dwellers of Hell seek Allah’s refuge from the heat, stench, dirt and chastisement bestowed to it by the Almighty. It has a mountain, and dwellers of the valley seek Allah’s refuge from the heat, stench, dirt and chastisement bestowed to the mountain by the Almighty. There is a pass on this mountain. It is endowed with such heat, impurity and dirt by Allah that the dwellers of the mountain seek Allah’s refuge from it. The pass has well. The well is given such heat, impurity and punishment that even the dwellers of the pass dread it. The well houses a snake and the inhabitants of this well are terrified of the foulness of its venom etc. The snake carries seven caskets in its belly, containing five evil persons of the past nations: Qabil the killer of Habil, Nimrod who confronted Ibrahim with the claim that he gave life and death, the Pharaoh who said that he was the greater god, Judas who misguided the Jews and St. Paul who misled the Christians. Two remaining caskets will have two most evil persons from the Muslim community.
According to an authentic tradition from Imam al-Ridha, “When Ibrahim was tossed into the fire, he beseeched the Almighty Who made the fire cool and comforting for him.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq are quoted in authentic texts that when Ibrahim was put into the fire he recited the following invocation: Yaa Ah’ado Yaa S’amadoYaa man lam Yalid walam yoolad walm Yakullahu kofowwan Ah’ad Tawakkalt a’lallaah.
The Almighty revealed to the fire to become cool and safe for Ibrahim. So for three days no one could obtain any heat from fire, even water could not be heated. A tall platform was constructed for Nimrod. On the third day he ascended it accompanied by Azar. He saw that Ibrahim was sitting in a blooming garden engaged in conversation with an elderly man.
“How exalted is your son in the eyes of his Lord!” Nimrod told Azar.
Then he told Ibrahim to leave the city and said, “You cannot live with me in the same town.”
According to trustworthy chain of reporters, Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq said, “When Yusuf went to Nimrod he asked, ‘How are you, Ibrahim.’
‘I am not Ibrahim,’ replied Yusuf, ‘I am Yusuf son of Ya‘qub, son of Ishaq son of Ibrahim.’
It was the same Nimrod who had confronted Ibrahim regarding the Almighty. He retained his youth for a period of four hundred years.”
Reliable narrators maintain that Imam Zayn al-‘abidin said, “When Ibrahim was thrown in the fire Archangel Gabriel brought a garment of Paradise and clothed him. As a result the fire receded from him and Narcissus grew around him. Yusuf was in possession of the same garment. When he took it out in Egypt and Ya‘qub smelt it, he said it smelt of Yusuf.”[55]
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is reported from authentic chains of narrators that it was the day of Navroz when Ibrahim broke the idols. In the tafsir of Imam Al-Hasan al-’Askari the Holy Prophet is quoted to have said that the Almighty relieved Nuh from difficulties and extreme sorrow by the right of Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad. By the grace of the same personalities, the Almighty made the fire cool and comforting for Ibrahim. He provided a chair and couch for him, which was so resplendent that the devilish king had never seen before. And neither had any ruler of the world ever possessed its kind. And the Almighty cause to grow in the same fire such green plants, bearing flowers and fruit the kinds of which are not seen in any of the four seasons.
Amir al-Mu’minin is quoted through reliable traditions that when Nimrod wished to gain information about the heavens, he acquired four vultures and trained them. He constructed a wooden box and put a man it. Then he starved the vultures for some days and tied them to the legs of this box. Pieces of meat were hung from a pole on the top side of the box. The starving vultures rushed to snatch the meat and as a result lifted the box with it’s occupant towards the sky. They climbed so high that when the man looked down to the earth he saw the mountains seemed like trenches, and yet the sky remained at the same distance. After a long time again he looked towards the earth but saw only water whereas the sky was as far as before. They continued to rise for a long time. Again when he looked down but could not see anything. Yet the sky was still far away. At last he was surrounded by darkness he could see neither the sky nor the earth. He became frightened and hung the meat downwards. The vultures headed downwards and returned to the earth.[56]
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is quoted in an authentic tradition that the place of birth of Ibrahim was Kosaria, a district of al-Kufah. His father was a native of that place. The mothers of Ibrahim and Lut were sisters. That is Sarah and Warqah, the daughters of Lahaj, a Prophet who was appointed to warn of Allah’s punishment but was not a Messenger. (One who brings a shari‘ah). Since his childhood, Ibrahim followed the same nature that Allah created for all humans until the time Allah guided him to his religion and exalted him. Ibrahim selected the daughter of his maternal aunt and married her. Sarah was barren. She possessed a lot of land and cattle and she gifted it to Ibrahim. Ibrahim obtained knowledge of everything through his efforts. The cattle multiplied and agriculture prospered. Ibrahim became the most prosperous person of Kosaria.
When Ibrahim was consigned to the fire but escaped unhurt Nimrod ordered him to be banished, and that all his wealth, cattle and property be confiscated. Ibrahim argued with them and said that they wished to seize his cattle and property they should give him in lieu, his age that he spent in acquiring the wealth. The case was ultimately presented to a judge. The judgment issued was that since Ibrahim had earned his wealth in the country, it should be seized but he must be compensated for the age he spent in its acquisition. When Nimrod was informed of the judgment he told the people to return all the wealth and ask Ibrahim to leave the city. For if he remained among them, he would continue to denounce their religion and cause harm to their gods. Thus Ibrahim and Lut were expelled from their country to Syria. Ibrahim departed with Lut and Sarah, saying, “Surely I fly to my Lord (Jerusalem); He will guide me.” (37:99)
Then he constructed a large casket and placed Sarah in it, and taking all his wealth and cattle left the city of Nimrod. They reached the country of a Copt, named Urara and were stopped at the check post.
A government official began to assess the goods of Ibrahim. When he reached the casket he ordered it to be opened so that it can also be taxed. Ibrahim said the casket contained gold and silver thread and that they may charge whatever they liked for it but not to open it. The official said it was necessary to open the box to determine the charges. He abruptly opened the box and saw a beautiful lady (Sarah) in it. “What is your relation with this woman?” they asked Ibrahim.
“She is my honor, my cousin.”
“Why have you concealed her?”
“For her modesty, that no one may cast a glance on her.” The officer said that he will not release them until the matter is reported to the king. A messenger was sent to the king with this information. The king sent people to carry the box to him. Ibrahim followed them saying he will not part with box until he was alive. When the king learnt of this he ordered that Ibrahim should also be presented in the court with the casket. Thus Ibrahim was brought to the king along with the casket and his other belongings. The king ordered Ibrahim to open the casket. Ibrahim said it contained his honor, his cousin. “Take all my wealth and belongings but do not open the casket,” pleaded Ibrahim. The king opened the casket abruptly. When he beheld the beauty of Sarah he could not control himself and he moved his hand to touch her. Ibrahim turned his face away and said, “My Lord! Save the honor of my cousin from this hand.” The king’s arm withered. He could neither move it towards Sarah not pull it back.
“Has your god caused this to happen?” asked the king.
“Yes,” replied Ibrahim, “My Lord is the possessor of modesty and dislikes sin. He became an obstruction between you and your intention because you intended sin.”
“Request your Lord to restore my arm and I shall not repeat it,” said the king.
Ibrahim prayed to the Almighty to restore the king’s hand so that he may not move it towards Sarah. The arm regained life but when the king looked at Sarah, again he lost control of himself and his hand shot forward. Again Ibrahim turned his face away in shame and prayed. The hand froze and could not reach Sarah. The king said, “Indeed, your Lord is modest and you are chivalrous. Now you pray to your God for my hand. I will never act in this manner again.”
“I will pray only upon the condition that if you go back on your word, I will not request the Almighty to forgive you again.”
The King agreed and Ibrahim prayed for his hand if he was speaking the truth.
The hand was restored. When the king saw all this he was amazed and instilled with the fear of Ibrahim. He began to respect and honor him and said, “Rest assured, I will not touch your wealth or your honor. Go wherever you like, but grant me a favor.”
Ibrahim asked what it was. He said, “I have a beautiful and intelligent slave-girl. I wish to present it to Sarah.” Ibrahim agreed and he presented Hajar , the mother of Isma‘il to Sarah. Then Ibrahim left with his goods and family. The king escorted them as a mark of respect, walking behind. The Almighty sent a revelation upon Ibrahim that he should wait and let the king walk before him even though he has been subdued. For despite his kingship he was defeated, whether he was good-doer or a sinner was another matter. Ibrahim stopped and said to the King, “You walk before me because my Lord has revealed that I should not precede you as He wants me to show respect to you and show preference to you.”
“Has your Lord really revealed this to you?”
“Yes” replied Ibrahim “I testify that your Lord is High and Mighty, and He is Respectful and Merciful. You have attracted me towards your religion,” remarked the king and said farewell to Ibrahim. Upon reaching Syria they halted and Ibrahim left Lut there. After a long time, when they were still childless, Ibrahim told Sarah , “If you like, sell Hajar to me. Maybe Allah shall grant me a son to succeed me.”
So he purchased Hajar from Sarah and Isma‘il was born.
According to a reliable tradition a Syrian asked Amir al-Mu’minin the tafsir (exegesis) of the ayah: “On the day when man will dissociate from his brother, his mother and his father.”
Imam said, “The one to dissociate from his father in the Resurrection Day will be Ibrahim.”[57]
An Account of the visit of Ibrahim to the heavens, His knowledge…
In the Tafsir of Imam Al-Hasan al-’Askari there is a tradition that the Holy Prophet said: When Ibrahim was raised up by the Almighty to the heavens as mention by Allah, “And thus did we show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure.” (6:75)
He said, Have you then considered what you have been worshipping He saw a man and a woman engaged in adultery. He cursed them and they died. Then he saw two men committing sodomy. Again he cursed them and they died. Again he saw a couple engaged in fornication and cursed them to death. The fourth time he beheld a similar spectacle and was about to curse when Allah sent a revelation upon him.
O Ibrahim, Restrain your malediction from my servants. Indeed I am Forgiving, Merciful and Honorable. The sins of My creatures do not harm Me just as their worship does not benefit Me. I do not train and educate them by subjecting them to My wrath immediately. So refrain from cursing My servants. Indeed you are appointed to warn My servants about My chastisement, you are not My partner in My kingdom, and neither a guard or witness for the people. I deal with My servants in one of the three ways: They repent and I accept their repentance and forgive their sins and conceal their defects. Or I stop My chastisement from them because I know they are carrying some believers in their loins. When the believers are born to them and separate from them, it becomes necessary to punish them. Then My wrath descends. If they are not carrying believers in their loins or wombs and they also do not repent, then the punishment that I have stored for them in the Hereafter is more severe than what you wish for them of the worldly chastisement. Because My punishment for My servants is according to My wrath and My majesty. So leave My servants to me and do not interfere, because I am more Merciful for them than you and more mighty and wise. I destine according My knowledge and allow destiny and free will among them.’
There are many other traditions with similar connotation.
In many of the authentic traditions the exegesis of the following ayah: “And thus did we show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that He might be of those who are sure.”
He said, Have you then considered what you have been worshipping: (6:75)
That the Almighty bestowed to Ibrahim with such a vision that he could see all that was in the heavens. The curtain was removed from the earth and he saw all that was in the earth. In the heavens he saw the angels that support the sky. He also saw the Divine Throne and whatever else was present in the heavens. In the same way the Messenger of Allah and the holy Imams were also shown all that was present in the heavens.
According to an authentic tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq when Ibrahim was viewing the spectacles of the heavens and the earth, he witnessed the adultery of three couples. He prayed for their destruction and they died. The Almighty revealed to Ibrahim: O Ibrahim! Your prayers have been answered but do not curse My servants. If I had wished I would not have created them in the first place. My creatures are of three types. The first one worships Me and does not associate anyone or anything with Me. I reward these people. The second type one those who worship others by they are not beyond My control. The third kind are also polytheists but carry believers in their loins, and in future they shall beget a group who would worship Me.
Then Ibrahim saw a dead animal on the bank of a river, half inside the water and other half on land. The creatures of the sea were feeding of the part that lay in the water. In turn they were consumed by other aquatic animals. Similarly the land scavengers fed upon the other half of the dead animal. And when they returned to wilderness some of them were killed and eaten by other wild animals. Ibrahim was amazed and asked the Almighty how the raised the dead. Because some of them were being devoured by others, so how could the different parts of their body rejoin. The Almighty asked him if he did not believe that He enlivens the dead. Ibrahim said that he believed but desired to have his heart at ease. That is, “I want to see it with my own eyes, just as I have seen the other things.” The Almighty told him to catch four birds, cut them up, mince their meat and mix them thoroughly. Then to keep a portion of this mixture on ten different mountain peaks and then call them by their names. They shall rush to him. In another tradition the Almighty tells Ibrahim to call them through His name, and quote His Greatness and Might as intermediary. The four birds were, the cock, the pigeon, the peacock and the crow.
In authentic tradition of Imam al-Ridha when Al-Ma’mun asked him the tafsir of the ayah, “My lord show me how you enliven the dead,”
Imam said: The Almighty revealed to Ibrahim, “I would certainly appoint one of My servants as ‘Khalil’. And that even if he wishes that I give life to the dead, I would oblige him.” Ibrahim thought he might be that ‘Khalil’. So he requested Allah to show him how He gave life to the dead.
And when Ibrahim said, My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said, What! And do you not believe? He said, Yes, but that my heart may be at ease. He said, Then take four of the birds, then train them to follow you, then place on every mountain a part of them, then call them, they will come to you flying; and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise. (2:260)
Imam says that Ibrahim caught a vulture, a rooster a wild-duck and a peacock and cut them into small pieces. Then he mixed their flesh and bones and placed portions of the concoction on the mountain peaks surrounding him. There were ten mountains in all. He continued to hold the severed beaks of the birds in his hand. Then he put some bird feed and water on the ground and called then one by one. The different portions of the birds flew from different sides and formed their bodies. The bodies joined with the necks. Ibrahim attached their beaks and they become alive and rose in the air. Then they alighted and fed on the grains and water. Then they said, “O Prophet of Allah! You have given life to us, may Allah keep you alive.”
Ibrahim said, “No, Allah gives life to the dead and He Alone has power over everything.
In another authentic tradition from Imam as-Sadiq when he was asked the explanation of this ayah he said: Ibrahim took four birds, a woodpecker, a pigeon, a peacock and a crow. He slaughtered them and severed their heads; and then putting them in a mortar minced their flesh and bones so that they mixed beyond recognition. He divided the mixture into ten parts and placed each portion on a mountain peak. Then he put some grains and water near him and held their beaks in between his fingers. He called out to them in the name of Allah. The flesh and bones from different locations came together to form bodies, then the bodies joined the necks. Ibrahim released their beaks and the birds landed on the ground. After feeding on the grains and gulping down the water they said, “O Prophet of Allah, You have given us life, May Allah keep you alive.”
“Allah gives life and causes death,” said Ibrahim. Imam says this is the clear interpretation of the verses. But the intrinsic meaning is, “Get four persons who are capable of understanding and self control. Then impart your knowledge to them and sent then to the four corners of the world so that they are your proof upon the people. And whenever you desire you can summon them. So call then by the name of Allah that they come soon by His command.”
In another reliable tradition Ibrahim minced their flesh and bones in a mortar and retained their heads. Then he called by the name He had commanded. He saw that pieces of flesh and feather were flying from the mountain tops and the veins stuck out and joined with the bodies, until they were all complete. They flew towards Ibrahim. When he offered the head of another bird in its place it would turn aside and join only with its original head.
Through authentic chains of narrators Imam Muhammad al-Baqir is quoted that Ibrahim collected the Ostrich, peacock, wild-duck and a cock. Removed their feathers and slaughtered them. Putting them into a mortar pulverized them and placed portions of this mixture on the peaks of Ohud. They were ten peaks in all. Then he summoned them by their names and they rushed towards him. [58]
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is reported to have said in a reliable tradition that the heavenly book of Ibrahim was revealed on the first night of the month of Ramadhan.
According to Abu-Dharr, the Messenger of Allah said the twenty heavenly books (Sahifah) were revealed to Ibrahim. When Abu-Dharr asked regarding the content of those books, the Holy Prophet replied, “All types of examples and wise sayings. They also contained the following advices: O arrogant king who stands for examination! I did not send you to hoard wealth. I sent you so that you would fulfill the need of poor people who pray to Me. And I do not reject their prayers unless they are infidels.
It is incumbent upon the man of reason that except for having a valid excuse, he should appoint for himself four occasions. One when he supplicates to his lord, one for taking account of his self; regarding whatever good and bad deeds he has committed, One when he ponders upon the Divine bounties and whatever Allah has bestowed upon him and one occasion for fulfilling his sensual desires in a legitimate way in private. Indeed this portion is more important than other occasions because it imparts comfort to the hearts.
The rational man must keep himself well-informed of the conditions of the people of his times. He must endeavor to better his own status. He should protect his tongue from the things not worthy of being spoken. One who keeps account of his speech, reduces his speech. And only speaks what is beneficial for him.
An intelligent person must desire three things: Livelihood of the world, betterment of the Hereafter and pleasures that are permitted by the Almighty.”
Abu-Dharr asked if the Book of Ibrahim had any message from the teaching of Qur’an.
The Holy Prophet said, “O Abu-Dharr! Read the following ayats: He indeed shall be successful who purifies himself, And magnifies the name of his Lord and prays. Nay! you prefer the life of this world, While the hereafter is better and more lasting. Most surely this is in the earlier scriptures, The scriptures of Ibrahim and Musa. (87:14-19)
According to a reliable tradition of Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq the exegesis of the ayah, “Ibrahim was the one who fulfilled”
is that he fulfilled the task entrusted to him or fulfilled the vow he had made to the Almighty.
Imam says that every morning Ibrahim recited the following supplication: As’bah to wa rabbi Mah’moodan As’bah’ to laa Ushreka billaahe shay-an wa laa Ado’o Ma’allao he ilaahan Aakhara wa laa attakhed’a ma’a hoo Waliyya.
It was for this reason that he is referred to as the ‘servant who thanked excessively.’
In an authentic tradition Mufadhdhal bin Umar asked Imam as-Sadiq the tafsir of the following verse: “And when his lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them.” (2:124)
Mufadhdhal wanted to know what were the ‘certain words’!
Imam replied, “They were the same words that Allah had taught to Adam and accepted his repentance. That is he said ‘O Allah! I plead to you through the rights of Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn that you accept my repentance. And Allah forgave him.”
“What is the meaning of ‘he fulfilled them’?” asked Mufadhdhal. “Ibrahim recited the blessed names until the twelfth, Imam al-al-Qa’im (aj) the family of Muhammad, who is the ninth descendant of Imam al-Husayn.”
[53] There is no contradiction in above traditions. Ibrahim was given the status of Khalil because he had all the perfect qualities. The traditions regarding the ‘friendship’ are mostly those that exhort the perfection of moral qualities.
[54] According to the writer, this proves that the incident of Nimrod and the gnat is correct but he could not find it in a reliable tradition.
[55] There is no contradiction in these traditions. It is possible that all this has occurred. Ibrahim must have recited the invocations and made the Holy Prophet and Imams as his intercessors. As a result, the Almighty sent for him the garment and ring and ordered the “Be Cool O! Fire.”
[56] It is well-known among the historians that Nimrod was also seated with his personal assistant in the box.
[57] This part contains some controversial points and even though he has explained them in Behaarul Anwaar, it is necessary to mention them here also. The apparent meaning of the ayats is that Azar was the father of Ibrahim and the same is well-known among Sunnis. However, it is famous or rather a unanimous opinion of the Shi‘ah scholars that Tarukh and not Azar was the father of Ibrahim. And the Tarukh was a Muslim. The greatest scholars of Shi‘ahs have defended this opinion by the traditions that all the ancestors of the Holy Prophet until Adam were Monotheists. They were also either Prophets or their legatees. Since Ibrahim is one of the ancestors of the Holy Prophet it is necessary that his father must be a Muslim too. The genealogists also agree that Ibrahim’s father was Tarukh. Therefore whenever the Qur’an or hadith mention Azar as the father of Ibrahim, it is only a metaphor because he was the uncle of Ibrahim Referring to ones Uncle as father is an Arabian custom. It is also possible that Azar was Ibrahim’s uncle and after his father’s death married Ibrahim’s mother. Since he brought up Ibrahim under his care, he is referred to as his father. Some of the traditions that cannot be justified may have been narrated under dissimulation (Taqiyyah). Secondly the Almighty says in the incident of Ibrahim.
“Then he looked at the stars, looking up once, Then he said, Surely I am sick, (of your worshipping these).” According to the explanatory traditions when the people were leaving for celebrations Ibrahim looked at the stars and said he was sick. Then he broke the idols. Why did he make such a statement? Was it true or false? According to some Ibrahim had intermittent fever and thus looked at the stars and said, “It is the time for my repentance, I will be having fever and hence cannot go out. Others say that since the people were practitioners of astrology, Ibrahim also studied the stars before stating that he had fever, whether truly or just as an excuse. Because an untrue statement can be spoken as an allusion. With the intention of a true statement, it can be spoken as toriya. It is not considered a lie and is permissible. Rather in some demanding circumstances, it becomes obligatory to ward off danger to ones life or property. Some scholars have also explained the ayah in a way that Ibrahim looked at the stars, that are created by Allah and said that he was sick of the fact that people should worship the stars and idols. The apparent meaning of some authentic tradition shows that the statement of Ibrahim was spoken for some special reason. Ibrahim spoke by way of toriya and hence the people failed to understand the true meaning.
Thus some people asked Ja’far al-Sadiq as to how Ibrahim said, “I am sick.” Imam said that Ibrahim was not sick, but he did not lie. What he meant was that he was sick in finding a correct method to defeat the false religion of those people. Another tradition states that he said ‘I will be sick.’ And as a person is helpless in death, he is helpless in sickness also. In yet another narration it is said that when Ibrahim had the premonition of the tragedy of Imam al-Husayn he became sick of sorrow.
The third objection is that when it is proved that all Prophets are infallible from birth then how Ibrahim said ‘This is my Lord’, when he beheld the star. Because apparently it is disbelief (Kufr). What is the actual meaning of this statement? This can be justified in a number of ways. Firstly, there is something as contemplation. A person presumes something and wonders. ‘If it is so.’ Then he thinks upon it and takes a decision.
Thus we have an authentic tradition from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq wherein people asked him if Ibrahim committed Kufr when he saw the star and said ‘This is my Lord!’ Imam explained that the statement of Ibrahim cannot be called Kufr since he was in search of truth and wanted to expound the philosophy of Tawhid. And that, if any person were to make such a statement now, it would be Kufr.”
In another reliable tradition he says that if anyone says it in search of truth he would be like Ibrahim. Secondly, though it was an assertion it could be construed as an assumption. Moreover, Ibrahim said this because if he had right away testified to Allah’s oneness the people might have abandoned him right away without allowing him to complete the proof. So he sought their support in the beginning and then proved that it cannot be so. This convinced the people. Lending support to this argument is the tradition of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq that he said the statement of Ibrahim was not his own but what people used to believe. He only repeated it.
Thirdly, the words of Ibrahim can be rhetorical. This is saying the opposite of what he means.
Al-Ma’mun asked Imam al-Ri¤a the exegesis of the same ayah. Imam said, “At that time there were three kinds of people. Some worshipped Venus, some worshipped the moon and some deified the Sun. When Ibrahim came out of the cave where he was hidden since birth, the Sun had already set and Venus shone on the sky. He made a rhetorical statement, it was not an assertion. After Venus set he said, ‘I do not like those who set. Because setting and receding into concealment is a sign of a temporal being. It is not a sign of permanence and omniscience.’ Then he looked at the luminous moon and said by way of rhetoric, ‘This is my Lord?’ When it has also set, he said, ‘If my Lord had not guided me I would have gone astray.’ Imam says, “He meant to say that if he had not been in the guidance of Almighty he would have been among the infidels.”
When it was morning and the sun arose. Ibrahim said by way of rhetoric, ‘Is this my Lord? For it is larger than Venus and larger than the Moon.’
When the Sun also set, he addressed the three groups and said, “O people! Keep away from those whom you associate with Allah. I have turned my face towards the One who originated the heavens and the earths. I am sincere in dissociating from all false beliefs. I am not a polytheist.”
It is also possible that Ibrahim intended to convince the people of the fallacy of worshipping objects that had temporal characteristics of the Venus, Moon and Sun. Whereas the one who deserved to be worshipped is the one who created the heavens and the earth. The arguments that Ibrahim employed were revealed to him by the Almighty Himself. As we read at the conclusion of this incident that Allah says, “And this was Our argument which We gave to Ibrahim against his people;” (Surah Anaam 6:83).
After Imam al-Ri¤a concluded his speech Al-Ma’mun said, “O son of the Messenger of Allah may Allah reward you for this. You have untied the knot in my heart.”
In another authentic tradition it is mentioned that Ibrahim was born during the reign of Nimrod the son of Canaan. And those four kings have reigned over the entire earth. Two of them were believers: Sulayman and Dhu’l-Qarnayn and the other two were infidels: Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod. Nimrod was informed that a male child was to be born that year. He would destroy him, his religion and his idols.
After securing this information, he appointed female spies for expectant ladies and ordered all newborn boys to be killed that year. The mother of Ibrahim was also pregnant that year. The Almighty fixed the foetus of Ibrahim of the back of his mother instead of the belly. When he was born, his mother hid him in a cave below the surface of the earth and closed the entrance. He grew up unlike other children and his mother visited him occasionally. Thus, when he came out of the cave for the first time, he saw Venus shining on the sky. He had not seen a more beautiful star. “This is my Lord,” said he. The Moon arose after some time. When Ibrahim saw the moon, he said, “It is bigger. This is my Lord!” When the Moon set he said, “I do not associate with those who set.” Then it was morning and the Sun appeared. “This is my Lord!” He said, “It is bigger than all the others.” When the Sun also set, he turned away from all of them and faced the Lord of the worlds.
This hadith contains all the points of justifications. Moreover, there are some other reasons that I have explained in Behaarul Anwaar.
Ibrahim’s statement upon the disappearance of Venus that he did not consider it as his Lord is significant for the fact that when a star rises, it is more luminous and bright but at the time of setting it loses its luster and becomes dull. Therefore, the people used to worship it at the time it arose. Ibrahim wanted to point out the fallacy of the people in worshipping something that is inconsistent. One should worship only that which is ever-present and able to benefit its creatures, without any conditions attached. Something that is constant in bestowing benefits. Also, that something which is subject to change is itself temporal. It is also possible that Ibrahim wanted to call their attention towards this particular phenomena because they were aware of the effect of the Star at the time of its rising and knew that it weakens by the time it is setting. Therefore Ibrahim presented a convincing argument that something which is itself imperfect cannot create perfect things.
Apart from these, there are also methods to prove the same points but they are the beyond the scope of the present book.
The fourth objection concerns the breaking of idols by Ibrahim and then claiming that the largest of them has done it. For it is a lie and a Prophet can never lie. This doubt can also be explained in a number of ways: First of all the statement of Ibrahim was conditional because he said, “The biggest of them did it. Ask them if they can talk.” (Surah Anbiya 21:63). It means that if they were capable of talking and deserving of worship they could have performed such an action. Actually, it was a great insult to the idols. That those who cannot talk and cannot protect themselves and neither cause benefit nor harm, then how foolish it is to worship them.
Accordingly when Ja’far al-Sadiq was asked for the tafsir of this ayah he said, “Ibrahim said, “If they could talk” at the conclusion of his statement. It means that if they can talk, the largest one has done it. Otherwise not.” Hence Ibrahim did not make a false statement.” Secondly, accusing the largest idol for the act was metaphor. Ibrahim had broken the idols because the people venerated them. Since they respected the largest idol more, it was entitled to greater blame. It is common in Arabic language to associate the verb with something other then the doer of the action.
Thirdly, ‘the biggest of them’ is the second phrase of the ayah, proceeded by ‘he has done it’. The first phrase could mean ‘one who did it, he has done it’. “If what you say is true that they are gods, the biggest of them is present, ask him who did it.”
Fourthly, falsehood is a statement that is against reality and bereft of any wisdom. Ibrahim said that for hidden wisdom, to defeat the people in logical reasoning. Accordingly, there is an authentic tradition from Ja’far al-Sadiq that a person who says something untrue for the sake of correcting someone cannot be blamed for lying. Then Imam recited the above ayah and said, “By Allah! The idols didn’t do it and neither Ibrahim uttered a lie.” And in another tradition Imam says, “Allah likes the lie that is uttered like Ibrahim for reforming the people. He said, ‘He had done it, the biggest of them,’ for educating the people. He proved that they did not possess the power of reasoning.”
[58] Different traditions mention different species of birds. This could be due to dissimulation (Taqiyyah), and narrated on the times of Sunnis. It is also possible that the incident occurred more than once though its unlikely.
Secondly, how Ibrahim was the victim of doubt regarding the power of Allah to give life and death. This controversy can be cleared in a number of ways. First, he wanted to see the actual process though he believed in it. When some people asked Imam al-Ri¤a, “Was Ibrahim in doubt when he said, But that may be at ease?” Imam replied, “No, he was not in doubt, but he wanted to increase his faith in the Almighty.” Imam Musa al-Ka¨im has also explained in the same way.
Second: Though he believed in the raising of dead, he wanted to witness the process with his own eyes.
Third: As mentioned in a tradition mentioned above, he wanted to be sure he was the appointed ‘Khalil.;
Fourth: That Nimrod had challenged him to enliven the dead and warned him of dire consequences if he didn’t. So Ibrahim desired to obtain his hearts’ ease and also comply with Nimrod’s challenge. But only two of the reasons are mostly likely ones. And Shaykh Muhammad bin Babawayh has related that Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Tayfoor told me regarding the ayah. “O Lord show me how your enliven the dead,” that the Almighty told Ibrahim to visit one of his exalted servants. When Ibrahim paid him a visit he said that there is a person by the name of Ibrahim and the Almighty has taken him as His Khalil. Ibrahim asked what was the proof of this. The man replied, “Allah will enliven the dead for him.”
Ibrahim suspected that he himself was that Khalil, and to make sure requested Allah to give life to the dead. The Almighty asked him if no faith had in it. He replied that he had faith but wished to put his heart at ease. (that I am that Khalil) He also wished to have miracle as the other Prophets had. So he requested the Almighty to raise the dead to life. The Almighty ordered him to kill a living being. Ibrahim slaughtered his son Isma‘il. The Almighty ordered him to slaughter four birds: Peacock, pigeon, wild duck and a cock: Peacock symbolized the embellishments of this world, pigeon stood for the increasing hopes, for it had a long life-span, the wild duck indicated jealousy and the cock was a symbol of sensuality. So the Almighty told him that if he wished to enliven his heart and put it to ease he must purify his heart from the four things and kill them by his self. Because even if one of them remains in the heart, it cannot be at ease. The Shaykh says that he asked him as to why the Almighty asked him, “Do you not believe?” When He was aware that Ibrahim was a believer. Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah replied, “Because the request of Ibrahim apparently indicated doubt. And the Almighty wished to clear him of all blame. So Ibrahim said that he was not it doubt but wanted to strengthen his faith. Or other reasons as mentioned above.
Since the words of Ibn Tayfoor are not hadith they cannot be relied upon like we rely on authentic traditions. But since the Shaykh has mentioned them, I too quote the same.
[59] It is despicable if one wishes for a long life merely to obtain the worldly pleasures. However, it is meritorious if he prays for a long life in order to perform good deeds that will benefit him in the Hereafter. It is the love for Almighty, an exclusive love for Him. Therefore, many supplications contain words asking for a long life. But the perfection of character lies in that a man should be satisfied with divine decree. If he knows that Allah wants death for him, he should similarly accept it. But if one does not know what Allah expects of him, he should pray for a long life so that he can gain the Almighty’s recognition. It will signify his love for Allah. The Prophets prayed for a long life only until the time they knew Allah is satisfied with their entreaties. If they had preferred a long life more than Allah’s satisfaction they would never have put themselves in perilous circumstances.
[60] These traditions differ with regard to the age of Isma‘il the disparity could be due to dissimulation (Taqiyyah) or the fact that some traditions were issued to correct others.
[61] We have included some incidents from the life of Ibrahim, Isma‘il and Ishaq in our account of Lut.

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