ABRAHAM. Arabic Ibrahim ابراهيم
One of the six great prophets to whom God delivered special laws. The “Friend of God;’ Khalilu’illah, to whom were revealed twenty portions (sahifah) of Scripture.
Abraham is very frequently mentioned in the Qur’an, together with Ishmael and Isaac. The following are – Mr. Lane’s selections (giving in italics the remarks of Muslim commentators) –
“Remember when Abraham said to his father Azar (This was the surname of Terah), Dost thouu take images as deities? Verily I see thee and thy people to be in a manifest error. – (And thus, as We showed him the error of his father and his people, did We shew Abraham the kingdom of the heaven and the earth, and [We did so] that he might be of [the number of] those who firmly believe.) And when the night overshadowed him, he saw a star (it is said that it was Venus), [and] he said unto his people who were astrologers, This is my Lord, according to your assertion. – But when it set, he said, I like not those that set. to take them as Lords, since it is not meet for a Lord to experience alteration and change of place, as they are of the nature of accidents. Yet this had no effect upon them. And when he saw the moon rising, he said unto them, This is my Lord.—But when it set, he said Verily it my Lord direct me not (if he confirm me not in the right way), I shall be of the string people — This was a hint to his people that they were in error; but it had no effect upon them”. And when he saw the sun rising, he said. This is my Lord. This is greater than the star and Moon — But when it set, and the proof, had been rendered more strong to them, yet they desisted not, he said O my people, verily I am clear of the (things) which ye associate with God; namely the images and the heavenly bodies. So they said unto him, What dost thou worship? He answered, Verily I direct my face unto Him who hath created the heavens and the earth following the right religion, and I am not of the polytheists. – And his people argued with him [but] he said, Do ye argue with me respecting God, when He hath directed me, and I fear not what ye associate with Him unless my Lord will that aught displeasing should befall me? My Lord comprehendeth everything by His knowledge. Will ye not therefore consider? And wherefore should I fear what ye bare associated with God when ye fear not for your having associated with God that of which He hath not sent down unto you a proof? Then which of the two parties is the more worthy of safety; Are we, or you? If ye know who is more worthy of it, follow him. – God saith, They who have believed, and not mixed their belief with injustice (that is, polytheism), for these shall be safety from punishment; and they are rightly directed.” (Surah vi. 74-82.)
“Relate unto them, in the book (that is, the Qur’an). the history of Abraham. Verily, he was a person of great veracity, a prophet. When he said unto his father Azar, who worshipped idols, O my father, wherfore dost thou worship that which heareth not, nor seeth, nor averteth from thee aught,whether of advantage or of injury? O my father; verily [a degree] of knowledge hath come unto me, that hath not came unto thee therefore follow me: [I will direct thee into a right way. O my father, serve not the devil, by obeying him in serving idols; for the devil is very rebellious unto the Compassionate. O my father, verily I fear that a punishment will betide thee from the Compassionate, if thou repent not, and that thou wilt be unto the devil an aider, and a companion in hell-fire.- He replied, Art thou a rejector of my Gods, O Abraham, and dost thou revile them? If thou abstain not, I will assuredly assail thee with stones or with ill words; therefore beware of me, and leave me for a long time. – Abraham said, Peace from me be on thee! I will ask pardon for thee of my Lord; for He is gracious unto me: and I will separate myself from you and from what ye invoke, instead of God; and I will call upon my Lord: perhaps I shall not be unsuccessful in calling upon my Lord , as ye are in calling upon idols, and when he had separated himself from them, and from what they worshipped instead of God, by going to the Holy Land, We gave him two icons, that be might cheer himself thereby, namely, Isaac and Jacob; and each [of them] We made a prophet; and We bestowed upon them (namely, the three). of our mercy, wealth and children; and We caused them to receive high commendation.” (Surah xix. 42-51.)
“We gave unto Abraham his direction formerly, before he had attained to manhood; and We know him to be worthy of it. When he said unto his father and his people, What are these images; to – the worship of which ye are devoted? – they answered, We found our fathers worshipping them and we have followed their example. He said unto them. Verily ye and your fathers have been in a manifest error. They said, Hast, thou come unto us with truth in saying this, or art thou of those who jest? He answered, Nay, your Lord (the being who deserved to be worshipped) is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, who created them, not after the similitude of anything pre-existing; and I am of those who bear witness thereof. And, by God, I will assuredly devise a plot against your idols after ye shall have retired, turning your backs. – So, after they had gone to their place of assembly, on a day when they held a festival, he break them in pieces with an axe except the chief of them , upon whose neck he hung the axe; that they might return unto it (namely the thief) and see what ‘he had done with the others. They said, after they had returned and what he had done, Who hath done this unto our gods? Verily he is of the unjust – And some of them said, We heard a young man mention them reproachfully: he is called Abraham. They said, Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may bear witness against him of his having done it. They said unto him, when he had been brought, Hast thou done this unto our gods, O Abraham? He answered, Nay, this their chief did it and ask ye theme if they [can) speak find they returned unto themselves, upon reflection, and said unto themselves, Verily, ye are the unjust, in worshipping that which speaketh not. Then they reverted to their obstinacy and said, Verily thou knowest that these speak not: then wherefore dost thou order us to ask them? He said, Do ye then worship, instead of God, that which doth not profit you at all, nor injure you if ye worship it not? Fire on you, and on that which ye worship instead of God! Do ye not then understand? – They said, Burn ye him, and avenge your gods, if ye will do so. So they collected abundance of firewood for him, and set fire to it; and they bound Abraham, and put him into an engine, and cast him into the fire. But, saith God, We said, O fire, be thou cold, and a security unto Abraham! So nought of him was burned save his bonds: the heat of the fire ceased, but its light remained and by God’s saying, Security, – Abraham was saved from dying by reason of its cold. And they intended against him a plot; but he caused them to be the sufferers. And we delivered him and Lot, the son of his brother Haran, from El-‘Eraq, [bringing them] unto the land which We blessed for the peoples, by the abundance of its river: and trees, namely, Syria. Abraham took up his abode in Palestine, and Lot in Et-Mutefikeh, between which is a day’s journey. And when Abraham had asked a son, We gave unto him Isaac, and Jacob as an additional gift, beyond what he had asked, being a son’s son; and all of them We made righteous persons and prophets. And We made them models of religious who directed men by Our command unto Our religion and We commanded them by inspiration to do good works and to perform prayer and to give the appointed alms; and they served Us. And unto Lot We gave judgment and knowledge; and We delivered him from the city which committed filthy actions; for they were a people of evil, shameful doers; and We admitted him into our mercy; for he wan [one] of the righteous.” (Surah xxi. 52-75.)
“Hast thou not considered him who disputed with Abraham concerning his Lord, because God had, given him the kingdom? And he was Nimrod. When Abraham said, (upon his saying unto him, Who is thy Lord, unto whom thou invitest us?), My Lord is He who giveth life and causeth to die, – he replied, I give life and cause to die – And he summoned two men, ,and slew one of them, and left the other. So when he saw that he understood not, Abraham said, And verily God bringeth the sun from the east: now do thou bring it from the west. — And he who disbelieved was confounded; and God directeth not the offending people.” (Surah ii. 260).
“And Our messengers came formerly unto Abraham with good tidings of Isaac and Jacob, who should be after him. They said Peace. He replied, Peace be unto you. And he tarried not, but brought a roasted calf. And when he saw that their hands touched it not, he disliked them and conceived a fear of them. They said, Fear not: for we are sent unto the people of Lot, that we may destroy them. And his wife Sarah was standing serving them, and she laughed, rejoicing at the tidings of their destruction. And we gave her good tidings of Isaac; and after, Isaac , Jacob
She said, Alas! shall I bear a child when I am an old woman of nine and ninety years, and when this my husband is an old man of a hundred or a hundred and twenty years? Verity this [would be] a wonderful thing.- They said Dost thou wonder at the command of God? The mercy of God and His blessings be on you, O people of the house (of Abraham)! for He is praiseworthy, glorious.
-And when the terror bad departed from Abraham, and the good tidings had come unto him, he disputed with Us (that is, with Our messengers) respecting the people of Lot; for Abraham was gentle, compassionate, repentant. And he said unto them, Will ye destroy a city wherein are three hundred believers? They answered, No. He said, And till ye destroy a city wherein are two hundred believers? They answered. No. He said, And will ye destroy a city wherein are forty believers? They answered, No. He said, And will ye destroy a city wherein are fourteen believers? They answered, No. He said, And tell me, if there be in it one believer? They answered, No. He said, Verily in it is Lot. They replied, We know best who is in it. And when their dispute had become tedious, they said, O Abraham, abstain from this disputation; for the command of thy Lord hath come for their destruction, and a punishment not [to be] averted is coming upon them.” (Surah xi. 72-78.)
“And when Our decree for the destruction of the people of Lot came [to be executed], We turned their (that is, their cities) upside- down; for Gabriel raised them to heaven, and let them fall upside-down to the earth; and We rained upon them stones of baked clay, sent one after another, marked with thy Lord. each with the name of him upon whom it should be cast: and they [are] not far distant from the offenders; that is, the stones are nor, or the cities of the people of Lot were not, far distant from the people of Mekkeh.” (Surah xi. 84.)
“And [Abraham] said [after his escape from Nimrod], Verily I am going unto my Lord, who will direct me unto the place whither He hath commanded me to go, namely, Syria. And when he had arrived at the Holy Land, he said, O my Lord, give me a son [who shall be one] of the righteous. Where- upon We gave him the glad tidings of a mild youth. And when be bad attained to the ago when he could work with him (as some say, seven years; and some, thirteen), he said, O my child, verily I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee (and the dreams of prophets are true; and their actions, by the command of God); therefore consider what thou seest advisable for me to do. He replied, O my father, do what thou art commanded: thou shalt find me, if God please, [of the number] of the patient. And when they had resigned themselves, and he had laid him down on his temple, in [the valley of] Mina, and had drawn the knife across his throat (but it produced no effect, by reason of an obstacle interposed by the divine power), We called unto him, O Abraham, thou hast verified the vision. Verily thus do We reward the well-doers. Verily this was the manifest trial. And We ransomed him whom he had been commanded to sacrifice (and he was Ishmael or Isaac; for there are two opinions) with an excellent victim, a ram from Paradise, the same that Abel had offered: Gabriel (on whom be peace!) brought it, and the lord Abraham sacrificed it, saying, God is most great! And We left this salutation [to be bestowed] on him by the latter generations, Peace [be] O Abraham! Thus do We reward the well doers: for be was of Our believing servants (Surah xxxvii. 97-111.)
“Remember when Abraham said, O my Lord show me how Thou will raise to life the dead. He said, Hast thou not believed? He answered, Yea: but I have asked Thee that my heart may be at ease. He replied, Then take four birds and draw them towards thee and cut them in pieces and mingle together their flesh and their feathers; then place upon each mountain of thy land a portion of them, then call them unto them: they shall come unto thee quickly; and know thou that God is mighty [and] wise. – And he took a peacock and a vulture and a raven and a rock, and did with them as hath been described, and kept their heads with him, and called them ; whereupon the portions flew about, one to another until they became complete: then they came to their heads.” (Surah ii. 262.)
“Remember, when his Lord had tried Abraham by [certain] words, commands and prohibitions, and he fulfilled them, God said unto him, I constitute thee a model of religion unto men. He replied, And of my offspring constitute models of religion. [God] said, My covenant doth not apply to the offenders, the unbelievers among them. – And when We appointed the house (that is, the Ka’bah) to be a place for the resort of men, and a place a security (a man who would meet the slayer of his father there and he would not provoke him [to revenge]) and [said], Take, O men, the station of Abraham (the stone upon which he stood at the time of building the House) as a place of prayer. that ye may perform behind it the prayers of the two rak’ahs [which are ordained to be performed after the ceremony] of the circuiting [of the Ka’bah]. — And We commanded Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], Purify my House (rid it of the idols) for those who shall compass [it], and those who shall abide there, and those who shall bow down and prostrate themselves. – And when Abraham said, O my Lord, make this place a secure territory (and God hath answered his prayer, and made it a sacred place, wherein the blood of man is not shed, nor is anyone oppressed in it, nor is its game hunted [or shot], nor are its plants cut or pulled up), and supply its inhabitants with fruits (which hath been done by the transporting of at-Taif from Syria thither, when it [that is, the territory of Makkah] was desert, without sown land or water such of them as shall believe in God and the last day. — He mentioned them peculiarly in the prayer agreeably with the saying of God, My covenant doth not apply to the offenders. – God replied, And I will supply
him who disbelieveth: I will make him to enjoy a supply of-food in this world, a little while: then I will force him, in the world to come to the punishment of the fire; and evil shall be the transit.” (Surah ii, 118-120.)
“And remember when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House (that is, building it), together with Ishmael, and they said O our Lord, accept of us our building; for Thou art the Hearer of what is said, the Knower of what is done. O our Lord, also make us resigned unto Thee, and make from among our offspring a people resigned unto Thee, and show us our rites (the ordinances of our worship, or our pilgrimage), and be propitious towards us; for Thou art the Very Propitious, the Merciful. (They begged Him to be propitious to them, notwithstanding their honesty, from a motive of humility, and by way of instruction to their offspring.) O our Lord also send unto them (that is, the people of the House) an apostle from among them (and God hath answered their prayer by sending Muhammad) who shall recite unto thorn Thy signs (the Qur’an), and shall teach them the book (the Qur’an), and the knowledge that it containeth, and shall purify them from polytheism; for Thou art the Mighty, the Wise. — And who will be averse from the religion of Abraham, but he who maketh his soul foolish, who is ignorant that it is God’s creation, and that the worship of Him is incumbent On it; or who lightly esteemeth it and applieth it to vile purposes; when We have chosen him in this world as an apostle and a friend, and be shall be in the world to come one of the righteous for whom are high ranks ? — And remember when his Lord said unto him, Resign thyself : – he replied, I resign myself unto the Lord of the worlds.–And Abraham commanded his children to follow it (namely, the religion); and Jacob, his children; saying, 0 my children, verily God hath chosen for you the religion of al-Islam: therefore die not without your being Muslims. – It was a prohibition from abandoning Islam and a command to persevere therein unto death.” (Surah ii. 121-126.)
When the Jews said, Abraham was a Jew, and we are of his religion , and the Christians said the like, [the following] was revealed : — O people of the Scripture, wherefore do ye argue respecting Abraham, asserting that he was of your religion, when the Pentateuch – and the Gospel were not sent down but after him a long time? Do ye not then understand the falsity of your saying? So ye, 0 people, have argued respecting that of which ye have knowledge, concerning Moses and Jesus, and have asserted that ye are of their religion: then wherefore do ye argue respecting that of which ye have no knowledge, concerning Abraham? But God knoweth his case, and ye know it not. Abraham was not a Jew nor a Christian; but he was orthodox, a Muslim [or one resigned], a Unitarian, and he was not of the polytheists.” (Surah iii., 58-60.)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam