Every Muslim believes that the Prophets (AS) were the best of mankind, came with a noble mission to guide the people and bring them back from the darkness to light, from the worship of false deities to the worship of Allah (SAW). Prophet Ibrahim (AS) is described as one of the greatest prophets to ever walk on the earth. He is referred to as “a community unto himself” [an-Nahl:120]. This describes the good example he was, and worth of his legacy he left behind. His life had never been easy. He faced test upon test, and with every test he came out stronger and more mindful to Allah. His perseverance has been remarkable throughout the test.
“Indeed, there has been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim and those with him” [60:4].
The best way to determine the greatness of someone is to understand their virtues, how they interacted with people, often ordinary people, to see who they truly were. There are many key characteristics in the life of Ibrahim (AS) that can be seen to contribute in making him exemplary and memorable. There are many lessons that can be learnt from the life of Prophet Ibrahim. However, in this article we will try to focus on the most prominent ones.
God Almighty told us many details of the life of Ibrahim, peace be upon him, and amongst the most repeated of those stories was the story of his destruction of the idols that his father and his people worshiped instead of God Almighty. Due to the great lesson it provides, it is imperative that every Muslim should know about this story in detail. Those who are striving for the cause of Islam, inviting the people to the call of Almighty and trying desperately to guide the humanity to the path of salvation, can learn the wisdom, rationality, gratitude, patience, and reliance on Allah.
Defending Early Guidance
Signs of intellectual brilliance and guidance began to appear on Ibrahim, peace be upon him, from his early childhood, and it was apparently noticeable. God Almighty says: “And We had certainly given Abraham his sound judgement before, and We were of him well-Knowing” [21:51] His heart was the purest heart on the face of the earth. He was the most obedient to its Lord, Glory be to Him, and the star of the guidance. He has risen brightly on the horizon of his thought, in the context of the story of his contemplation, thinking, and his pure rational inference on the oneness of God Almighty. He turned his gaze to the kingdom of the Creator, Glory be to Him, between the planet, the moon and the sun, after his categorical denial to his father and his people and their false and powerless idols.
This brilliant child began to disconcert his father and then his relatives and all his acquaintances with his repeated fascinating intellectual arguments. He argued with them with rational arguments and logical proofs of the correctness, based on the pure and clear instinct before he received the Devine inspiration. It is apparently clear in the saying of God Almighty: “When he said to his father and his people, “What are these statues to which you are devoted?” [21:52]
They said, “We found our fathers worshippers of them.” He said, “You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error.” They said, “Have you come to us with truth, or are you of those who jest?” He said, “[No], rather, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth who created them, and I, to that, am of those who testify.” [21: 52-56] That he, peace be upon him, was arguing with his people when he was at the age of playing and having fun. Therefore, they did not care about his words at first, and they did not pay any attention to him, but he was persistent on awakening them from their heedlessness.
Overthrowing paganism with argument and proof
That rational boy continued his conscious position in guiding his people to the path of righteousness, and became more steadfast with the guidance and blessing of God Almight. He endured difficulties and troubles in order to raise the word of truth, the word of Allah. He faced it alone and uniquely after his father expelled him and ordered him to avoid him, until he reached the age of maturity. The extent to which misguidance is firmly rooted in the psyche of his father (Azar) and his people is proved, and also the intensity of their attachment to idols, which stemmed from the strong link between their personal interests and their material worldly benefits with their belief. Then he had to confront them and reveal the fact that existed on people’s ignorance and spreading lies and misguidance among them to serve their vested interests and eat people’s money unjustly.
And when he despaired of their consciences and minds response to his conclusive arguments, he decided to bring down their idols, as they represented their corrupt personal interests preventing them from being guided to the knowledge of their true Lord, Glory be to Him, and His worship. So, he informed them of his intention and determination to remove these obstacles that prevent people from realizing the truth to which he was guided, and he swore that he would plot against their idols. “And [I swear] by Allah, I will surely plan against your idols after you have turned and gone away.” [21:57], and then our Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, began his preparations to materialize what he committed himself to and swore by God Almighty to accomplish.
Planning to bring down idols
And when our Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, realized that the theoretical argument is not beneficial with his father and his people, he decided to teach them a practical lesson in which he will prove the truth of what he has been telling them about these idols’ despicability. His plan was to break the idols at one time, smash them into small pieces, and leave the largest idol intact; to embarrass people when they face this tragedy by referring to him to solve this problem and show them the way out.
So Ibrahim, peace be upon him, chose a day from the feast days of the polytheists, on which they gather at their idols to present them with offerings, and he had to take a preliminary step before implementing his plan that day so that his people would not notice his movements.
He found that the best thing he could do to divert their attention from him was to pretend that he had a severe and incurable disease that, in their view, would render him bedridden – and to do so before the day of the sacrifices with a sufficient period of time to make his people reassured on his side and not suspicious of him.
Executing the script
The ploy of severe illness reach the people; They went to the day of the feast of their gods, reassured and happy, believing that their gods had avenged that disease from this young man who insulted it in front of people and humiliated it. Ibrahim let them drown in their blind ecstasy, waiting for the opportunity to implement his plan.
The expected moment came after his people had finished their feast ceremonies and left the temple and approached towards their dens of pleasure, Ibrahim slipped from view and entered the temple to find food items piled up in front of these deaf idols, He mocked these idols, then he attacked and smashed them without making an uproar that draws attention to his presence in the temple, “Then he turned to their gods and said, “Do you not eat?[37:91].
“What is [wrong] with you that you do not speak? And he turned upon them a blow with [his] right hand.” [37:92-93], he kept on hitting the idols till he turned it in ruins, and left the largest idol and collected the offerings according to his plan, “So he made them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it [and question]”[21:58] When he finished his mission, he went back to his bed without leaving behind any trace of human intervention in the place, waiting for the echoes of the great event among the people.
Echoes of the big event
The city exploded with its people with the spread of the news and the discovery of the incident, and the voices of the crowd began to rise, denouncing and condemning this crime. “They said, “Who has done this to our gods? Indeed, he is of the wrongdoers.” [21:59]. Some of those present remembered that there was a person whom they had once heard attacking and threatening these gods, so they decided to bring him to trial and public accountability. They ran quickly, and Ibrahim, peace be upon him, came with them to the site of the accident to accomplish practically what he has planned, in detail.
In front of the scene of the destroyed idols and in the presence of the deceived large crowds, Ibrahim, peace be upon him, gave his bright rational proof to enlighten the minds of those present and witnesses. He took advantage of the sight of the largest idol that was unharmed, and with all the collected sacrifices, so he can slap them with awakening truth, and thus he achieved his goal he intended to. This made the people in direct confrontation with their idols, which they claim are patronizing them and lighting their way. It is as if he said to them:
“If I had been the perpetrator, I would have destroyed all of them, but it seems that the chief of them was greedy, so he seized all the offerings and destroyed his companions, and these two pressing issues certainly require these idols to speak to reveal to you the truth of what happened in the temple on the one hand, and for the greatest idol to defend itself from this accusation on the other hand”. Result was as expected, a temporary awakening, but they soon returned to their first intellectual setback, so Ibrahim, peace be upon him, reprimanded them. He said, “Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah. Then will you not use reason?” [21:66-67)
Here the people revolted to avenge their insulted dignity, claiming victory for their idols, and the decision was to build a large house in which they would gather as much firewood as they could; to kindle a fire of great destiny, then to throw in its flames this young man who remained silent, and contented himself with speaking to his Lord, Glory be to Him. He was satisfied to offer himself as pure sacrifice, relying on Him for whatever He wills, combining all his hope in God Almighty in one word that he repeats and what a word. Abdullah bin Abbas, may God be pleased with them both, says:
“The last words of Abraham when he was thrown into the Fire: “Sufficient for me is Allah; [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.”, and the Disposer, Glory be to Him, honored His promise and protected His servant and turned against the polytheists their plot’ and converted their plot and punishment to cool oasis for Ibrahim, and turned what they prepared with intention to insult this boy a miracle witness to his honesty and his prophecy “Allah said, “O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham. And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers. “[21:69-70]
And the boy supported with the consent of his Lord came out victorious, he emerged more powerful in front of his father and his people, and disassociated himself from them and their delusions, and thus became a role model for every true believer throughout the generations, “ There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, “Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone” [60:4] Then soon came the order of God Almighty to migrate to the land of Levant.
Humanity is passing through unprecedented challenging time. With global pandemic and unrest in societies can be compared to Prophet Abraham’s life. A true believer understands that trials and tribulations are the part of life and knows that the total reliance on Almighty is the key to success. handling difficult situations and seeking to use the tools to overcome and conquer even the most troubling circumstances.