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Newsletter for October 2016
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By Syed Haider Hussain Shamsi
The Birth of Ibrahim
Ibrahim was born in the fifth generation from Hud, and during the reign of a tyrant known as Namrood (Nimrod). Namrood, a powerful king, made his subjects bow to him as a god. One night he dreamt that a star rose from the horizon and its brilliance eclipsed the moon and the sun. He woke up wondering about the interpretation of his dream. He summoned the astrologers and fortune tellers to come up with the most acceptable explanation of his dream. They conferred with one another and told him: 'A person will be born in your kingdom who will wreck your power and destroy your influence.' He asked if that person had actually been born or would be born in the near future. They told him that he was not yet born. Upon hearing that, Namrood ordered a ban on all marriages, separating men from women and ordered the killing of all new born.
Allah is All Powerful and All Knowing. His intentions come to be whenever He deems them to be. The mother of Ibrahim successfully concealed her pregnancy. She went out of the city limits and gave birth to her child in a cave. She stayed in that cave with her child until the senseless slaughter of the new born had come to an end and the king's own fear of his destruction had abated. By this time Ibrahim had grown up to be a tall and handsome lad. They returned to their ancestral home in the city of Ur.
His Intelligence, Cognition, and Rejection of Idolatry:
In those days people believed in the celestial bodies as their deities. One night, Ibrahim also selected the brightest of all the stars for his observation. By the morning its light faded and it disappeared. He thought that the most brilliant of the stars could not be the creator as it faded away in the brightness of another celestial body. Similarly he noted that the moon changed phases, and was but a shadow in front of the brightness of the sun. He concluded that the moon could not be the creator either. He pondered if the sun were the ultimate god, as he had also noted people bowing in subjugation to the sun. But the sun was out only for the duration of the day, and gave way to the stars and the moon at night. He reflected upon this phenomenon and concluded that the one who put these celestial bodies in their respective places has the supreme power over them and must be the God Almighty, even though He were not visible or physically tangible. He was pleased with this conclusion and enthusiastically began to tell people how wrong they all had been to ignore the obvious power behind their daily lives, the Supreme power of Allah. He invited them to give up their false gods and return to the truth.
Some laughed at his idea, some ignored him as he was only a youth "with little knowledge of life," while others were offended and admonished him for his lack of respect for their gods.
T'hey invited him to come to the annual festival and see for himself how they had decorated their gods along with fabulous offerings brought over from far and wide. Ibrahim excused himself and did not go to the festival. As the towns people had all gone to the fair grounds to indulge in their festivities, Ibrahim went to their temple, broke all their idols and left his axe hanging on the shoulder of the biggest of them all in the center of the temple.
Next day when people went to the temple and saw what had happened to their gods, they knew that Ibrahim had done it, since he had made no secret of his dislike of those idols. The village chief asked Ibrahim if he knew who had broken their idols. Ibrahim, pointing towards the big idol said, "Why don't you ask him?" The chief said, "How could a stone idol do such a deed?" There upon Ibrahim said, "If the stone idol was incapable of doing it, or protect itself and the other idols, how could it be a god, the provider and the protectors " They obviously had no answer to the logic of Ibrahim. However, they were not prepared to follow his path. They wanted him punished for being disrespectful to their gods. They sent a deputation to Namrood, their god-king for a judgment against Ibrahim.
Ibrahim was summoned to the court of Namrood to answer his charges and face the punishment.
When all the people had gathered in the court, Namrood arrived. All subjects bowed down to the ground for their total submission except for Ibrahim who remained upright and did not bow to the king-god. When asked why he refused to bow to him, Ibrahim replied that he submitted only to his God, The Creator, The Sustainer. This was an open insult to the king who commanded an absolute power over his subjects and claimed himself to be a god. By his act, Ibrahim had provoked the king's wrath. However, surprised at the courage of Ibrahim, the king decided to question him.
Debate in the Court of Namrood on the existence of Allah
The king asked Ibrahim to explain to the entire audience who his god was. Ibrahim said that his God was one who gave life and who took it away. The king said that he did that every day!
Ibrahim said that his God brought forth the sun from the east. He asked the king that if he had the power, could he cause the sun to rise from the west! Clearly the king was unable to carry out such a feat.
The king then turned around and asked Ibrahim why he had broken all the idols in the temple. He gave the same reply to the king as he had given to the chief of the village before. The king said to Ibrahim that he knew that the idols did not talk and yet he kept on referring to the biggest of them to answer the question that actually pertained to him. Ibrahim said that since the king and all his subjects knew that idols did not talk why then they worshiped them as gods.
As there were no answers to the logic of Ibrahim the king ordered his courtiers to dig a large pit, light a wood fire and throw Ibrahim in it alive, to make an example so that nobody would again disobey or ridicule their god-king.
The Miraculous escape of Ibrahim from the fire
The pit was dug and a large fire was lit in it. When it was roaring with flames and the heat could be felt from a distance, Ibrahim was thrown in it. Ibrahim prayed to the true God, Allah, for His mercy in that hour of trial. By the Grace of Allah neither the fire nor the heat touched Ibrahim. He walked around as if in a garden and left the pit totally unharmed. This indeed was a miracle that convinced some of the onlookers who bowed to the true God and accepted the true religion of Allah and gave up idolatory.
Ibrahim left his ancestral city of Ur and migrated north to Haran where he stayed for a short period of time. Then he moved west to Kin'an (Canan in Torah), along with his wife Sarah and nephew Lut (Lot in Torah). After a while, Lut was appointed messenger by Allah to the people of Sidom and Gomorrah who lived north of Kin'an.
The Progeny of Ibrahim
Before finally settling in Kin'an, Ibrahim visited Egypt where the king gave him a maiden (according to some, his daughter) in marriage. Her name was Hajirah(Hager in Torah). Allah gave Ismail as the first born child to Ibrahim through his second wife Hajirah at a old age of eighty six years. Sarah was infertile and became jealous of Hajirah. Under instructions from Allah, Ibrahim took his son Ismail and his wife Hajirah from Kin'an and brought them down south in the land of Arabia where they were left to live for rest of their lives. Ismail grew up to be a handsome and tall young man who had many children and is popularly known as the patriarch of the Arabs.
Back in Kin'an, after a few years, Sarah who had grown old, and given up hope of ever bearing a child of her own, also conceived and bore a son to Ibrahim named Ishaq. It is worth noting here that Ibrahim had then turned ninety nine years of age. Ishaq was a great prophet of Allah in the land of Kin'an. He remained settled in Kin'an and had several prominent prophets amongst his progeny.
After the death of his wife Sarah, Ibrahim took another wife named Qutura from whom had many sons and daughters. These children of Ibrahim settled and populated the lands of Madain, Midyan and Saba.
The Trial of Ibrahim by Allah
One night Ibrahim saw in his dream that he had sacrificed his son Ismail to please Allah. He wondered over this dream and pondered over its meaning. He saw the same dream on three consecutive nights. He called his son Ismail and told him about his dreams. The son asked his father to do exactly what he had seen in his dreams, if that was the wish of the Creator Almighty, and that he would find him patient. Ibrahim tied his son just as he would tie a sacrificial lamb, and placed the knife on the throat of his son to carry out the sacrifice. The Sustainer of life and of all mankind sent the archangel Jibril (Gabrial) with salutations from Allah and told the father and the son that their belief in Allah and their resolve to give their most valued possession in life in His way had pleased Him greatly. Allah had sent a lamb to be sacrificed in place of Ismail. Ibrahim thanked the Lord for the acceptance of his service and returned home with humility and gratitude towards Allah. This act of Ibrahim has been perpetuated by Allah forever, and is celebrated by Muslims all over the world every year when they sacrifice a lamb. This event is known as Eid-al-Adha.
The Construction of Kalba and Hajj
Ibrahim and his son Ismail built the Ka'ba and inserted the Black Stone in one of the comers of the building in accordance with the Will of Allah. The ritual of Hajj was initiated at that time and has continued to this day.
Solution to the question of Death and Resurrection
Once Ibrahim asked Allah how would He bring them to life again when the living had died and perished. Allah asked Ibrahim if he had doubts over that question. He said he had no doubt about the absolute powers of his Lord but he wanted to satisfy his curiosity over the mechanism of resurrection.
Allah instructed Ibrahim: 'gather four birds, let them become familiar with you, then sacrifice them, mix their meat and scatter it on four hills across from one another. Then call the birds by their names, and they will come to you.' Ibrahim did as instructed, and verily the same happened as predicted by the Supreme One, Allah. Thus Ibrahim solved the riddle of resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment. Allah will call His creation as He Wills, and they will all rise from their graves.
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 Ishaq was born 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.
The Death of Ibrahim
This great prophet and a friend of Allah, also known as the patriarch of all subsequent prophets, died at the age of one hundred and seventy five years.
Major Lessons from the Life of Ibrahi
1. Do not remain ignorant about religion, nor be stubborn about the old ways of our forefathers. Seek the truth. Accept it when discovered.
2. Do not associate any thing or any one with The Creator. Nothing can share with Him the glory of His Oneness.
3. Submit to Allah in total submission to enjoy His bounty and benevolence.
4. When it is difficult to practice your faith in safety and in peace, move to another place, for His territory is vast and His bounty limitless.
5. Whenever occasions arise requiring sacrifice to preserve or protect Faith, do not hesitate, for all we have, came from Him. We are independent owners of nothing in this world.
References: al Qur'an: Sura Baqra, ale Imran, Nisa', An'am, Taubah, Lud, Yusuf, Ibrahim, Hajar, Nahl, Mariyam, Anmbiyaa, Hajj, Shu'raa, Ankaboot, Sa fat, Jinn, Zakhraf, Hadeed, Mumtahna, Zariyat, Najam, Taha.
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