“Verily! This is in the former Scriptures. The Scriptures of Abraham and Moses.” (Quran 87:18-19)
Abraham (Ibrahim) is one of the Prophets of God. He is the son of Azar (also called Tarikh), the son of Nakhur, the son of Sarugh, the son of Arghu, the son of Falagh, the son of Ghabir, the son of Shalikh, the son of Qaynan, the son of Arfakhashidh, the son of Sam, the son of Noah. Prophet Abraham was born in Iraq, under the rulership of Nimrod. Nimrod ruled a wide area.
The astrologers informed Nimrod at the time that a child would be born, and at his hands, the destruction of his reign would occur. They said that the residence of this child would be in Babil (Babylon) next to Kufah. At that, Nimrod ordered that any male newborn child would be slaughtered.
The Birth of Prophet Abraham
The wife of Azar conceived. Her husband took her to Ur, a village outside of Babil. It is a place between Kufah and Basrah, all in present day Iraq. He made her stay in a place that was excavated underground. He used to supply her with food, drink and the rest of her needs.
After a long period of time passed without anything happening to the reign of that king, he felt relaxed. Azar addressed the king regarding the subject. The king permitted them to return. So, they came back with their children. Abraham grew up rapidly. His father was a man who carved idols and worshipped them.
“And recite to them the story of Abraham. When he said to his father and his people: “What do you worship?” They said: “We worship idols, and to them we are ever devoted.” He said: “Do they hear you, when you call (on them)? Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?” They said: “Nay, but we found our fathers doing so.” He said: “Do you observe that which you have been worshipping, you and your ancient fathers? Verily! They are enemies to me, save the Lord of all that exists; Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; And it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me; And Who will cause me to die, and then will bring me to life (again).” (Quran 26:69-81)
Prophet Abraham Calls his Father to Islam
Prophet Abraham forbade his father from doing this false worship, as indicated in Surat Maryam, verse 42. Abraham said, “O my father, why do you worship that which does not hear, see, or benefit you with anything?”
Azar was angry and he said, "O Abraham, if you do not worship my gods, I will stone you,” as was stated in Surat Maryam verse 46. Prophet Abraham told his father that he would ask God to guide him to Islam. Despite the threat, his evil father did not kill him.
“And when he saw the sun rising, he cried: ‘This is my Lord! This is greater!’ But when the sun set, he said, ‘O my people! Surely I am free from that which you associate with God. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth, away from idolatry, and I am not of those who associate others with God.’” (Quran 6:78)
Abraham used many wise techniques to prove to his father and the rest of the idol worshippers that they were wrong in worshipping idols instead of their Creator.
The people at that time worshipped the sun, the moon, and the stars. They sculpted idols representing those objects in the sky. Abraham wanted them to think about how these objects move, and that they must have a Creator Who has Power over them, making them move.
“Worship God, and keep your duty to Him; that is better for you if you did but know. You worship instead of God only idols, and you only invent a lie. Lo! Those whom you worship instead of God own no provision for you. So seek your provision from God, and worship Him, and give thanks to Him, (for) to Him you will be brought back.” (Quran 29:16-19)
Abraham Never Worshipped the Sun, Moon, and Stars
We know from verses 76-79 of Suratul-An^am that one night Prophet Abraham saw a star in the sky and told the people with denial, “This is my Lord?!” Then he waited and wanted them to observe that the star went away. After the star went away Abraham told, “I don’t worship that which goes away”. Abraham did the same with the moon and the sun. Concerning the sun he said, "Is this what you want me to worship, this which is bigger?!” He stressed to the people that all these things are creations that change, and that one must worship the Creator of those objects Who never changes.
“Abraham said: ‘Lo! God causes the sun to rise in the east, so you cause it to come up from the west.’ Thus was the disbeliever absolutely defeated. And God guides not wrongdoing folk.” (Quran 2:258)
Important note: Nowadays you find some people who misunderstand these verses and commit a serious mistake. They believe that Prophet Abraham worshipped the star, then the moon, then the sun. Then he finally worshipped God. This is totally incorrect. It is not possible that any Prophet would do such a thing.
These misguided people think that the questions that Prophet Abraham posed were instead confirmations that he worshipped the star, moon, and sun. In the Qur’an, there are no exclamation or question marks. However, as already known, Abraham’s statement was an exclamatory question posed to confirm an extreme rejection—in accordance with the Arabic language of the Qur’an.
An example of this is the following: Say someone came to you and said so-and-so is very gentle and has good manners. Then, when you associate with that person you find he is ill mannered and vulgar. You pose the question, “This person is good mannered?!" Clearly what you mean is that this person is the opposite.
How could people take those verses to mean that Abraham first worshipped those things in the sky? God said in the Qur'an that Abraham was already a believer prior to that incident (Al-Ambiya’, verse 51). The great Muslim scholar Ibnul-Jawziyy cited this in his book Zadul-Masir.
Prophet Abraham Smashes the Idols
The people of Abraham used to celebrate a feast where they went out of the town all together to celebrate that day. On that day, Prophet Abraham told them, "Inni saqim” (I will be sick) as it is cited in the Qur'an in Suratus-Saffat verses 89. Hence Prophet Abraham did not go with them to their feast. When they left, Prophet Abraham swore by God to break their idols, as stated in verse 57 of Al-Ambiya'. Some of the people who were the last to leave heard Abraham.
When they left, Abraham went to the idols. Those idols were in a grand hall, one next to the other. Food was placed between the hands of the idols. Prophet Abraham, mocking the idols, asked them, "Won't you eat?” When they did not reply, he said, “What is the matter with you? You do not speak.” Abraham started breaking them, using an ax. He destroyed them, making them rubble, except for the large one. Abraham left it intact for the people to see when they returned. He wanted to show them that the biggest idol, that they regarded the highest, was truly without power.
When the people returned and saw what had happened to their idols, they were extremely distressed, deeming this as a major incident. They said, "Who did that to our gods? Whoever did that to our gods is unjust!"
“And that was Our Proof which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All Wise, All Knowing. And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob, each of them We guided, and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. Thus do We reward the good doers. And Zachariah, and John and Jesus and Elias, each one of them was of the righteous. And Ishmael and Elisha, and Jonah and Lot, and each one of them We preferred above the worlds (of men and jinn). And also some of their fathers and their progeny and their brethren, We chose them, and We guided them to a Straight Path. This is the Guidance of God with which He guides whomsoever He will of His slaves. But if they had joined in worship others with God, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. They are those whom We gave the Book, the Understanding, and Prophethood…” (Quran 6:83-87)
Those who were among the last batch to leave, having heard Prophet Abraham utter those words said, "We have heard a young man called Abraham speaking ill of them. We have not heard such words from another person. We think that this is the person who did that to the idols."
The matter of this incident reached Nimrod and his close associates. They said, “Bring Abraham in front of the people to witness what we are going to do to him.” When they brought Abraham, with the people gathered at the place of the king, they asked Abraham, “Did you do this to our gods?” Abraham said, “If these idols could utter, then it is the largest idol of them who did that. So ask it, if it can speak.” Abraham did not say that the big idol did it. He was proving to the people that the big idol was powerless.
Those people recognized that the biggest idol did not speak, as Prophet Abraham was saying. They put their heads down because they knew that Prophet Abraham discredited them. Then, Prophet Abraham told them, "Do you worship other than God, that which does not benefit or harm you? Woe to you! Come back to your senses."
Prophet Abraham Confronts the Evil Nimrod
At that point, Abraham’s people debated with him about God. Nimrod asked Prophet Abraham, "That lord of yours, what is he?" Nimrod posed that question using the term "what" because he was used to likening the Creator to the creatures, and worshipping idols unrightfully.
Abraham stressed that God is not similar to His creation. He talked to Nimrod about the Power of God, and about the signs that signify the Oneness of God. Abraham said, "God, my Lord, is the One Who gives life and death." Nimrod, out of stubbornness said, "I give life and death. I can take two men who deserve to be killed. I will kill one, and I will set the other free. By that I will have given life to one, and death to the other."
Prophet Abraham, with his sharp brilliance, immediately realized that Nimrod was stubborn. Abraham changed his strategy with Nimrod, and told him, "God brings the sun from the East. If what you say is true, bring it from the West." That rebuttal startled Nimrod.
Once, Nimrod told Abraham, “Ask your Lord to revive the dead or else I will kill you.” Abraham asked God to show His Power to revive the dead.
The Miracle of the Birds
God revealed to Abraham to take four birds, a red rooster, a white pigeon, a green peacock, and a black crow. Abraham slaughtered those four birds, cutting off their heads. Abraham kept the heads. Then Abraham mashed together the headless bodies of those four birds, thoroughly mixing the parts of the four together. Abraham then divided that mixture into seven parts, and placed one part on each of seven mountains. Abraham stood so that he could see the whole mountain range and the seven places where the mixtures were.
Prophet Abraham held the heads of those birds in his hand and said, “Come by the Will of God.” The parts of those birds came flying together from the seven places, and the bodies of the birds were reconstructed. The birds stood before Ibrahim without heads.
Seeing this amazing miracle strengthened the faith that Abraham always had. Then Abraham offered the head to the appropriate bird, and the head attached to the body. When Abraham offered the inappropriate head, the bird did not accept it. When these birds were whole again, they flew away.
In his extreme stupidity, Nimrod still did not believe in Abraham’s message, despite that amazing scene. Nimrod imprisoned Prophet Abraham for seven years. Nimrod also starved two lions to feed them Abraham. However, when Nimrod sent the starving lions to kill and eat Abraham, instead they licked him and prostrated to him.
Nimrod Tries to Burn Prophet Abraham
Then Nimrod and his companions unanimously agreed to burn Prophet Abraham in support to their false gods. They collected wood, put it in a big ditch, and they started a great fire, so great that they needed to use a catapult to throw Abraham into it.
They did not know the catapult at that time. The cursed Satan came to them, in the form of a man, and taught those people how to make a catapult. It is said that man named Hayzin built it. Later, God made the ground swallow Hayzin.
The fire was so hot that if a bird were to fly above that fire, it would be burned. The people tied the hands and feet of Prophet Abraham before sending him off in the catapult. Prophet Abraham addressed God, “There is no God but You. Praise to You. You are free of all imperfections. To You are the thanks. You are the Owner of everything. You have no partners.”
When they threw Abraham into the fire, God made that fire cool and peaceful on him. Prophet Abraham said, “God’s support is enough for me. God is the best to rely on.” He stayed in it for the time that God willed for him to stay, without being harmed. He came out of it safe, without his body or clothes being burnt. The ropes that tied him did get burnt, without that hurting Prophet Abraham.
Days went by and Nimrod was sure that Abraham was dead. Then Nimrod looked and saw Prophet Abraham there alive and unburnt. Nimrod also saw a man next to Prophet Abraham who looked like him. Nimrod said, “I saw as if Abraham is alive. I think I am not seeing well. Build me a tower so I can be high and see clearly.” They made that tower, and when Nimrod ascended it, he still saw Abraham and a man next to him identical to Abraham. Nimrod yelled to Abraham, “O Abraham, can you get out of the fire?” Abraham said, “Yes”. Then Nimrod asked, “Are you afraid of being burnt if you stay there?” Abraham answered “No”.
Then Abraham went out of the fire. Abraham was asked, “Who was the one with you?” Abraham said, “That was the angel of shades. God sent him to give me good company.” Since then, Nimrod refrained from further hurting Abraham. However he still did not accept the message of Prophet Abraham.
God gave a punishment to Nimrod in this life, and in the next. Nimrod was ordered to accept Islam three times, which he refused. Then Nimrod gathered his army. God sent a lot of insects, attacking the army of Nimrod. The insects ate their flesh and left them as dead skeletons. Then, God sent an insect to Nimrod that went into his nostril. Nimrod felt great pain because of that and the only thing that he thought would make the pain go away was for his head to be hit. Nimrod asked for his head to be hit with hammers and other objects. It is narrated that he was in that condition for 400 years until he died.
Prophet Abraham and Lot Leave Babylon
Prophet Abraham left that area of Babylon, along with his nephew Lot (Lut). Lot was to become a Prophet, being Muslim all his life, believing Prophet Abraham. Lot went to an area in present day Jordan.
After leaving Babylon, Abraham first arrived in Harran, which is a place south of Turkey. He stayed there for a certain period. It is narrated that the king of Harran had a beautiful daughter named Sarah (Sarah). After Sarah believed in Prophet Abraham, he married her. (Others cited that Sarah was his cousin.) Then Prophet Abraham immigrated towards the countries of ash-Sham as it is said in Suratus-Saffat, verse 99. “Ash-Sham” is comprised of present day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Many references will be made to “Ash-Sham” throughout the book.
The verse says that Prophet Abraham went in the direction of the blessed land of Ash-Sham. Back then it was the land of the Prophets, whereas Iraq, at that time, was the land of the tyrants.
Abraham and Sarah Go to Egypt
After living in Palestine, Prophet Abraham and Sarah then headed towards Egypt. When Abraham arrived in Egypt there was a Pharaoh who was also an unjust tyrant. This man used to commit adultery with the beautiful married women that entered his land. Prophet Abraham told his wife, “If this tyrant knows that you are my wife, he will use force against me to get you.”
Abraham told Sarah, “If he asks you, tell him that you are my sister (which is true, my sister in Islam).” Then, some of the assistants of this tyrant saw Sarah and told him, “We have seen a woman that arrived into your land that should be yours and not anyone else’s due to her extreme beauty.” Hearing that, Pharaoh sent his assistants to bring her, and they did.
When Prophet Abraham learned about that, he started praying, as is the case with pious Muslims. They resort to prayers in hard times. When Sarah entered the quarters where the Pharaoh was present, he could not hold back.
Because of his ill manners, he stretched his hand towards her. His hand froze severely. The king told her, “Supplicate God that my hand will be released and I shall not harm you.” Sarah did, and the king’s hand was cured. Because of his ill manners, the king attempted once again to reach for Sarah, and his hand froze, but in a stronger manner than the first time. The king told Sarah the same thing as the first time. She made supplication and his hand was cured.
The king attempted a third time, and his hand froze much more severely than the first two times. The king told Sarah, “Make supplication to God to restore my hand and I swear I will not attempt again.” Sarah made supplication and the king’s hand was restored. Then, the king called the man that brought Sarah to him and told him, "Take her away! You brought a devil to me and not a human! Take her out of my land! Give her Hagar (Hajar), (who is a slave woman that he had) as a gift, and let her go."
When Prophet Abraham saw Sarah, he ended his prayers and said, “Tell me your news.” She said, "Good news. God held back the hand of this vulgar man, and we came back with a servant." Hagar was a beautiful woman. After a certain period of time, Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham as a gift. According to the rules given to Abraham, he could legally have sexual intercourse with the slave he owned.
The Birth of Ishmael
Sarah reached the age of menopause after having been barren. Prophet Abraham had intercourse with Hagar and she gave birth to Ishmael (Isma^il). Hagar is the mother of all the Arabs that came from the offspring of Ishmael. This is why Prophet Muhammad said to his Companions, "If you conquer Egypt, then pay good attention to and treat the people of Egypt well, because they have a blood tie to me." The Prophet meant that the relationship between the people of Egypt and the Arabs is tied to Hagar (who came from Egypt), with her being the mother of all the Arabs who are from the children of Prophet Ishmael. Muslim related this hadith.
“So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. And when (his son) was old enough to help in his daily affairs, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So look, what think you? He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded. God willing, you shall find me of the patient.” (Quran 37:101-102)
Whoever calls Ishmael the “bastard son” of Abraham is making a serious lie. Ishmael was a legitimate son of Prophet Abraham, for the intercourse that Prophet Abraham had with Hagar was legal according to Islam.
Abraham went out of Egypt and went to a land called Bi'rus-Sab^ (Beer Shiva). Then he left to an area between Ar-Ramlah and Ilya' (Jerusalem), all in Palestine.
The scholars said that Sarah was jealous after Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, and that is why Abraham took Hagar and his son and went to Makkah, as will be explained.
Abraham Receives the Good News of Isaac
Later, God gave Sarah the ability to have a child named Isaac (Ishaq). The angels gave her the good news of his coming birth and they gave her the good news of a son from him named Jacob (Ya^qub). Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was at an old age of 90 years.
Before having Isaac, God subjected Abraham to the difficult test of slaughtering his son from Hagar, Ishmael. Abraham was fully obedient and did not hesitate, not even for a second. However, God replaced the son with a lamb, and Ishmael was not slaughtered. This story is told in detail in the chapter about Prophet Ishmael.
Prophets Abraham and Ishmael Rebuilt the Ka^bah
Later, God ordered Prophet Abraham to reconstruct the Ka^bah. Prophet Abraham did that along with Ishmael.
When the walls of the Ka^bah were raised, Abraham stood on a stone which is known as Maqam Ibrahim (this stone originally came from al-Jannah, just as the Black Stone was). Each time the walls were raised a level that stone rose up, carrying Abraham. With each stone they laid, they made supplication to God as said in Suratul-Baqarah verse 127. It means “O God, accept this obedience from us. You are attributed with Hearing and Knowledge.”
“My Lord! Make safe this territory, and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols. My Lord! Lo! They have led many of people astray. But whoever follows me, he verily is of me. And whoever disobeys me, still You are Forgiving, Merciful. Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near to Your Holy House, our Lord! That they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they may yearn toward them, and provide You them, with fruits in order that they may be thankful. Our Lord! Lo! You know that which we hide and that which we proclaim. Nothing in the earth or in the heaven is hidden from God. Praise be to God Who has given me, in my old age, Ishmael and Isaac! Lo! My Lord is indeed the Hearer of prayer. My Lord! Make me establish regular prayer, and some of my posterity (also), our Lord! And accept my prayer. Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the Day when the account is cast.” (Quran 14:35-41)
There is a footprint to this day, on the stone that Prophet Abraham used to stand on while building the Ka^bah. It is truly Prophet Abraham's footprint. However, it is not confirmed that there is a footprint of the foot of Prophet Muhammad on any particular stone.
When Abraham finished reconstructing the Ka^bah, God ordered him to call, “O people, God ordained Hajj to this Old House.”
God imparted to Abraham the knowledge of performing Hajj. Prophet Ishmael also performed Hajj. Hagar, Ishmael's mother, died before Sarah, in the land of Hijaz (where Makkah is). Then Sarah died in the land of Ash-Sham. It was stated that after the death of these two women, Abraham married a woman from the people of Kan^an, who also bore children for him.
“And when his God tested Abraham with various commands, and he proved true to each one.” He (God) said, indeed I have made you a leader of humanity. He (Abraham) said (requesting of God), ‘and from my progeny.” (Quran 2:124)
Definitely Ishmael was the first son of Prophet Abraham. In the perverted Torah, they say that Prophet Abraham was ordered to slaughter his “first son Isaac.” Those Jews changed their book, to take away from the true privilege granted to Ishmael. The facts that Ishmael was so patient with the order to be slaughtered, and that Abraham loved Ishmael so much, show the high status of Ishmael. The Jews wanted to cover that up. The Jews come from Isaac and they wanted people to think that Isaac got the honor of that great test of the order to slaughter. However, they forgot to also take away the words "his first." According to their Torah, Ishmael was Abraham’s first son. The fact that they forgot to remove the words, “the first” shows their grave error.
Abraham is called Khalillullah, which is an exclusive title for him and Prophet Muhammad. It contains the meaning of “the one whose heart is full of love for God”, or “the one who is fully dedicated to God.” God revealed to Abraham ten booklets. He was the first person to be circumcised. Abraham was 80 years old when God ordered him to circumcise himself. To rush and be obedient to God, Abraham immediately acted. There was a hammer next to him. He used it to perform the circumcision. The hammer had a flat head on one side to hammer nails, and a sharp edge on the other side. Abraham used the sharp edge for the circumcision. Abraham did not wait to find something else, out of being quick in obedience to God.
Most of the conversation of Prophet Abraham with his children was not in the Arabic language. Yet Prophet Ishmael spoke the Arabic language.
It is known that Abraham was extremely merciful. He is the best of the Prophets after Prophet Muhammad. He was buried in al-Khalil (Hebron), in Palestine, next to where his wife, Sarah, was buried. The place of his grave is known there. The entire city of al-Khalil was named after Prophet Abraham.
Much more is related concerning the honorable Prophet Abraham in the following chapters about Prophets Lot, Ishmael, and Isaac. We ask God to greatly bless and honor Prophet Abraham, and grant us being with him in the Hereafter.
“Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! You, only You, are the Hearer, the Knower. Our Lord! And make us Muslims (submissive to You) and of our seed a Muslim nation (submissive to You), and show us our ways of worship, and forgive toward us. Lo! You, only You, are the Forgiving, the Merciful. Our Lord!” (Quran 2:127-128)
“And (remember) when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city (Mecca) a place of security and provide its people with fruits, such of them as believe in God and the Last Day...” (Quran 2:126)