Commemoration of Ibrahim
The faith of Ibrahim is called Millat Ibrahim in the Qur'an. Muslims believe that Ibrahim is a prophet of God, in accordance with the narrative of his life in the Qur'an. Ibrahim and his son Ismail are said to have fixed the Kaaba in Mecca. Ibrahim also has an important role in one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the Hajj, which is a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca and the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque). The principal aspect of the Hajj is remembering God's test of Ibrahim where he was asked to sacrifice his first-born son Ismail. Also remembered is his path to the altar where Iblis (the devil) attempted to dissuade him three times. Those places where Satan appeared are marked with three symbolic pillars where pilgrims throw stones. Moreover, a part of the Hajj is a commemoration of the sacrifice and efforts of the wife of Ibrahim - Hajar (Hagar), to find water in the desert for her son Ismail, when he was near death with thirst. She ran between the two hills, Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, seven times in search of help. This ritual, known as Saaee in Arabic (means seeking/searching), is mandatory for all pilgrims to Mecca. On her fourth time on Mount Marwa (completing seven runs between the two mountains), Hajre saw the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) sheltering her son Ismail from the sun as a spring of water emerged from beneath his feet. That spring became the basis of founding the city of Mecca, since fresh water was scarce in that barren land, and many tribes settled around there. The water from this spring, known to Muslims as Zam Zam, is still running and has been for thousands of years, purportedly since this event took place.
The importance of Ibrahim in Islamic tradition is also demonstrated in the five daily prayers of Muslims. Aside from Muhammad, Ibrahim, is the only other prophet of God who is mentioned by name four times in each of the five daily prayers that Muslims perform. This is done during the Durood recitation of the prayer where Muslims send their blessings to Muhammad.
Ibrahim in the Qur'an
There are numerous references to Ibrahim in the Qur'an. According to the Qur'an, Ibrahim is the spiritual father of all the believers. He is mentioned as an upright person who was neither a polytheist nor a Christian or a Jew. An example is like the one below:
O ye who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord, and do good, that haply ye may prosper And strive for Allah with the endeavor which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Ibrahim (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting Friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper.—Al-Hajj, 22:78
According to the Qur'an, Ibrahim reached the conclusion that anything subject to disappearance could not be worthy of worship, and thus became a monotheist. Some Sunni Muslims — like Jews — believe that Azar who was an idol-maker was the father of Ibrahim and some Sunnis and Shias believe that Tarakh was his father and Azar was Ibrahim's uncle. One should recognise the word Ab is used in the Qur'an not only to denote somebody's father but other close family relations too. For example,
Ibrahim broke Azar's idols and all inside the King's Temple, calling on his community to worship God instead. After his victory in a debate with the King, Nimrod a polytheist (Ibrahim says "God makes the sun rise from the east; can you make it rise from the west?"), they then cast him into a fire, which miraculously failed to burn him. The well-known but non-canonical Qisas Al-Anbiya (Ibn Kathir) records many more details of his life, which are commonly referred to in Islamic accounts.
The Qur'an does not specify whether it was Ishmael or Isaac whom Abraham was ordered to sacrifice, yet many interpreters believe it was Ishmael. This is not unanimous among interpreters of the Qur'an. Among the evidence offered for this position are two arguments:
1. Muslims note that the text of Genesis, despite specifying Isaac, appears to state that Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son to God.
Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of—Genesis/Bereshith 22:2
Since Isaac was Abraham's second son, there was no time at which he would have been Abraham's "only son", and that this supports the Muslim belief that there was an original text that must have named Ishmael rather than Isaac as the intended sacrifice.
2. The Qur'an states that when angels visited Abraham's house, they told him and his wife that they would have a son, Isaac, and that Isaac would have Jacob as a son. So Abraham had a divine promise that Isaac's life is guaranteed.
Muslims believe Ibrahim's dream was a test from God and a payment for a 'promise' that Ibrahim made after sacrificing so many offerings for God sake; while at that time, after being praised by so many humans and angels, he stated that if it is for the sake of God, even his own child would be offered. God counted those words as a 'promise' Ibrahim had to pay. When Ibrahim told his dream to Ismail, it was Ismail who convinced Ibrahim to fulfil God's order. So this was a test for both Ibrahim, who had longed for a son for such a long time, and for Ismail. Shayṭān (Satan in English) appeared before Ibrahim and Ismail to try to deceive them. Ibrahim and Ismail threw stones at Shayṭān as a response. This is commemorated during the Hajj, one of the rites undertaken by Muslims making the required pilgrimage to Mecca. As Shaytaan had failed to deceive Ibrahim and Ismail, he went to Ibrahim's wife, and mother of Ismail, Hajar. When he told her what had happened she did not believe him, but when he told her that Ibrahim believed he was carrying out God's will, Hajar said: "If it is God's will, let what God wills be done". Their faith had overcome Shaytaan and in the end, God stopped Ibrahim and gave him a sheep to slaughter instead.
The entire episode of the sacrifice is regarded as a trial that Ibrahim had to face from God. It is celebrated by Muslims on the day of Eid al-Adha.
References in the Qur'an
- Ibrahim's attributes: 2:124, 11:75–123, 16:120
- Ibrahim's: 2:130, 4:125, 6:83–84, 6:161, 9:114, 11:74, 12:6, 16:120, 19:41, 19:47, 21:51, 26:83–85, 29:27, 37:84, 37:88, 37:104, 37:109–111, 37:113, 38:45–47, 43:28, 53:37, 57:26, 60:4
- Allah tried Ibrahim: 2:124, 37:102
- Ibrahim's preaching: 2:130–231, 2:135–136, 2:140, 3:67–68, 3:84, 3:95, 4:125, 4:163, 6:74, 6:76–81, 6:83, 6:161, 14:35–37, 14:40, 21:52, 21:54, 21:56–57, 21:67, 22:26, 22:78, 26:69–73, 26:75, 26:78–80, 26:87, 29:16–17, 29:25, 37:83, 37:85–87,37:89, 37:91, 37:92, 37:93, 37:94–96, 43:26–28, 60:4
- Development of Ka'bah: 2:127
- Ibrahim's pilgrimage: 2:128, 22:27
- Ibrahim as Allah's friend: 4:125
- Punishment to Ibrahim's people: 9:70
- Moving to Syam: 21:71, 29:26
- Ibrahim, Hajar, and Ismail: 14:37, 37:101
- Dreaming of resurrecting a dead body: 2:260
- Arguing Namrud: 2:258
- Ibrahim and his father
- Ibrahim preached to his father: 6:74, 19:42–45, 21:52, 26:70, 37:85, 43:26
- His father's idolatry: 6:74, 26:71
- Ibrahim asked forgiveness for his father: 14:41, 19:47, 60:4
- Arguing with the people: 21:62–63, 21:65–66
- Ibrahim moved away from the people: 19:48–49, 29:26, 37:99, 43:26, 60:4
- Ibrahim's warnings for the idols: 21:57–58, 21:60, 37:93
- Thrown into the fire: 21:68, 29:24, 37:97
- Saved from the fire: 21:69–70, 29:24, 37:98
- Delightful news about Ishaq and Yaqub: 6:84, 11:69, 11:71–72, 14:39, 15:53, 15:54–55, 21:72, 29:27, 37:112, 51:28–30
- Dreaming of Ismail's slaughter: 37:102–103
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