The Struggles of Prophet Ibrahim (alaihis salaam)

One of the greatest prophets of all time was Ibrahim.Ibrahim went through many struggles in his long life to convince the people of world that they should worship Allah.When Ibrahim was a young man he realized that there was only one God despite what the people of his village said.His father and all the rest of the village worshipped many gods that were made from stone and wood.When they noticed that Ibrahim refused to pray to these idols they said, “Ibrahim, you must worship these gods because these are the gods our ancestors worshipped.”To Prophet Ibrahim this was not logical.To accept these pieces of wood and stone as gods just because other people thought they were gods did not make sense.“These people need to wake up,” Ibrahim said to himself.So Ibrahim came up with a plan to show how silly these people were.

One night he got a big club and crept to the place where all the idols were stored.He lifted the club and smashed a stone idol. Ibrahim did not stop until he destroyed every idol except for one–the biggest one.Ibrahim carefully placed his club beside the gigantic god and made off for home.

The next day Ibrahim was awakened by a man running through the streets.“The gods have been murdered, the gods have been murdered,” cried the barefooted man racing past Ibrahim’s window.Ibrahim looked outside and smiled.He was not afraid.He knew that people would come for him so he decided to go the scene of the crime.When he arrived he saw all the important people of the village there.Some were crying and weeping while others were filled with anger and rage.“Who would do something like this,” asked the mob shaking their clenched fists.All faces turned toward young Ibrahim.Everyone knew that only Ibrahim was bold enough to do such a daring act.Ibrahim had thought this would happen and had a reply ready.Ibrahim said, “Well it looks to me that only one of your gods is still alive and the weapon is sitting right by him.Why don’t you ask him who did it?”That only infuriated the people more.They grew from angry to mad.Everyone standing there that morning knew that the largest god could never do this.They knew that the largest god could not even speak.But they never stopped to ask themselves why they prayed to a god that was so helpless.

The people decided to make Ibrahim pay for his heinous crime.They bound him hand and foot with rope that was thick and coarse.Then they tied him to a large wooden stake that was stuck in the ground.Ibrahim prayed to Allah to help him as the people piled the wood under Ibrahim’s feet.Finally, after all the wood was in placed, one of the elders lit the fire.Ibrahim kept his eyes closed and constantly prayed to Allah as the wood smoked and began to catch fire.Soon no one could see Ibrahim behind the leaping flamesThey stretched their necks to hear the suffering of the prophet but they heard nothing.After the fire subsided and only a few smoldering embers were left the people looked but could not believe what they were seeing.Ibrahim was moving and still breathing!Allah had saved Ibrahim from being burned.The village people realized that the God of Ibrahim was the right one to follow yet they could not accept this.Instead, they banished Prophet Ibrahim from their village and continued to practice their idol worship.

When Ibrahim became older he settled in the fertile land of Canaan.He had a wife whose name was Sarah and they lived there for many years.Because Sarah had become very old they thought they could never have any children so she told Ibrahim that he should take a second wife in order that he may one day have children.Sarah offered him Hajirah, her handmaid, to be his second wife.Hajirah wanted a child very much and often prayed to Allah to have a child.Allah answered her prayer and Hajirah gave birth to a boy who Ibrahim named Ismail — which means “Allah shall hear.”

One day, Ibrahim woke up and asked his wife Hajirah to get her son and prepare for a long journey. In a few days, Ibrahim started out with his wife Hajirah and their son Ismail. The child was still nursing and not yet weaned.

Ibrahim walked through cultivated land, desert, and mountains until he reached the desert of the Arabian Peninsula and came to an uncultivated valley having no fruit, no trees, no food, no water. The valley had no sign of life. After Ibrahim had helped his wife and child to dismount, he left them with a small amount of food and water which was hardly enough for two days. He turned around and walked away. His wife hurried after him asking: “Where are you going, Ibrahim, leaving us in this barren valley?”

Ibrahim did not answer her, but continued walking. She repeated what she had said, but he remained silent. Finally, she understood that he was not acting on his own initiative. She realized that Allah had commanded him to do this. She asked him: “Did Allah command you to do so?” He replied: “Yes.” Then his great wife said: “We are not going to be lost, since Allah, Who has commanded you, is with us.”

Ibrahim invoked Almighty Allah thus: “0 our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred House (the Kaaba at Mecca); in order, 0 our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (0 Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. 0 our Lord! Certainly, You know what we conceal and what we reveal. Nothing on the earth or in the heaven is hidden from Allah.” [Surah 14: 37-38]

Hajirah sees Zam-zam – by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘This is the source of the tradition of the Sa’y (One of the rituals of the hajj, or pilgrimage) the going of people between them (i.e. As-Safa and Al-Marwa). When she reached Al-Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said: ‘0, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?’ And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing) till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it.”

The Prophet (pbuh) added: “May Allah bestow mercy on Ismail’s mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it or had she not scooped from that water to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.”

The Prophet (pbuh) continued: ‘Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her: ‘Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.’ The House (i.e. Kaaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left.

“She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada’. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said: ‘This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.’ They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water). Ismail’s mother was sitting near the water. They asked her: ‘Do you allow us to stay with you?’ She replied: ‘Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed to that. Ismail’s mother was pleased with the whole situation, as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families, who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ismail) grew up and learned Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.”

Ismail’s Wives

The Prophet (pbuh) continued: “After Ismail’s mother had died, Ibrahim came after Ismail’s marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ismail there. When he asked Ismail’s wife about him, she replied: ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied: ‘We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,’ complaining to him. He said, ‘When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).’

“When Ismail came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife: ‘Has anyone visited you?’ She replied: Yes, an old man of such-and-such description came and asked me about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.’ On that Ismail said: ‘Did he advise you anything?’ She replied: Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.’ Ismail said: ‘It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.’ So, Ismail divorced her and married another woman from among them (i.e. Jurhum).

‘Then Ibrahim stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ismail. So he came to Ismail’s wife and asked her about Ismail. She said: ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Ibrahim asked her: ‘How are you getting on?’ asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied: ‘We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).’ Then she thanked Allah. Ibrahim said: ‘What kind of food do you eat?’ She said: ‘Meat.’ He said: ‘What do you drink?’ She said: ‘Water.’ He said: ‘0 Allah! Bless their meat and water.”‘

The Prophet (pbuh) added: “At that time they did not have grain, and if they had had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it. If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca.”

The Prophet (pbuh) continued: ‘Then Ibrahim said to Ismail’s wife: ‘When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.’ When Ismail came back, he asked his wife: ‘Did anyone call on you?’ She replied: Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,’ so she praised him and added: ‘He asked about you and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.’ Ismail asked her: ‘Did he give you any piece of advice?’ She said: Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.’ On that Ismail said: ‘It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.’

The Kaaba is Built – by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

“Then Ibrahim stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them afterwards. He saw Ismail under a tree near Zam-Zam, sharpening his arrows.

When he saw Ibrahim, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father). Ibrahim said: ‘0 Ismail! Allah has given me an order.’ Ismail said: ‘Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.’ Ibrahim asked: ‘Will you help me?’ Ismail said: ‘I will help you.’ Ibrahim said: ‘Allah has ordered me to build a house here,’ pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it.

“Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Kaaba). Ismail brought the stones while Ibrahim built, and when the walls became high, Ismail brought this stone and put it for Ibrahim, who stood over it and carried on building. While Ismail was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying: “0 our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, verily, You are the All-Hearer, the AllKnower.” [Surah 2: 127]

Ibrahim and Ismail (PBUT) – the Sacrifice

Allah the Almighty told us of Ibrahim’s affliction with his beloved son: And he said (after his rescue from the fire): “Verily, I am going to my Lord. He will guide me! My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous.” So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy. And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “0 my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what do you think!” He said: “0 my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’ Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of the patient.”

Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah) and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); and We called out to him: “0 Ibrahim! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!” Verily! Thus do We reward those who perform good deeds totally for Allah’s sake only. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial – and We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram); and We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. “Salaamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim!” Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsineen (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves. [Surah 37:99-111]

Time passed. One day Ibrahim was sitting outside his tent, thinking of his son Ismail and Allah’s sacrifice. His heart was filled with awe and love for Allah for His countless blessings. A big tear dropped from his eyes and reminded him of Ismail.

The Ritual of Circumcision

When Ibrahim turned ninety nine years of age, Allah ordained that he himself, his male progeny, and all believers be circumcised.The divine order was obeyed.It might be noted here that Ishaaq was bom to Ibrahim at that old age and after the ritual of circumcision.This ritual is practiced by the Muslims and the Jews, the followers of Ibrahim, and all those who recognize the hygienic advantages of circumcision.

Tidings of Ishaaq

In the meantime, three angels descended to the earth: Hazrat Jibraeel (alaihis salaam), Hazrat Mikaaeel (alaihis salaam) and Hazrat Israfeel (alaihis salaam). They came in human shape and saluted Ibrahim. Ibrahim arose and welcomed them. He took them inside his tent, thinking they were strangers and guests. He seated them and made sure that they were comfortable, then excused himself to go to his people.

His wife Sarah arose when he entered. She had become old and white-haired. Ibrahim said to her: “We have three strangers in the house.” “Who are they?” she asked. “I do not know any of them,” he answered. “What food have we got?” Ibrahim asked. “Half a sheep,” she replied. “Half a sheep! Slaughter a fat calf for them; they are strangers and guests,” he ordered while leaving.

The servants roasted and served a calf. Ibrahim invited the angels to eat, and he started eating so as to encourage them. He continued, but when he glanced at his guests to assure they were eating, he noticed that none of them had touched the food. He said to them: “Are you not going to eat?” He resumed eating, but when he glanced at them again he found that they were still not eating. Their hands did not reach out for the food. He began to fear them.

Ibrahim’s fears increased. The angels, however, were reading his inner thoughts and one of them said: “Do not fear.” Ibrahim raised his head and replied: “Indeed, I am in fear. I have asked you to eat food, but you do not stretch out your hands to eat. Do you intend me evil?”

One of the angels smiled and said: “We do not eat. We are Allah’s angels.” One of them then turned towards his wife and conveyed the glad tidings about Ishaaq.

Almighty Allah revealed: And verily, there came Our Messengers to Ibrahim with glad tidings. They said: “Salaam (greetings or peace)!” He answered: “Salaam (greetings or peace)” and he hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards it (the meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: “Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lot.” And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people of Lot). But We gave her glad tidings of Ishaaq, and after him, of Yaaqub.

She said (in astonishment): “Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I am an old woman, and here is my husband, an old man? Verily! This is a strange thing!” They said: “Do you wonder at the Decree of Allah? The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, 0 the family (of Ibrahim). Surely, He (Allah) is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.” [Surah 11: 69-73]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email