Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Prophet Abraham: The Father of Prophets-2

By Kamil Mufti
16 September 2015
Steadfast to his belief in the face of his people, soon Abraham, still a young man, found himself on trial, standing all alone in front of a king, most probably King Nimrod.
Even his father was not on his side. But God was, as He always had been.
After God had saved Abraham from the fire, his case was presented to the king, who out of his pompousness, vied with God himself due to his kingdom. He debated with the young man:
{Have you not considered him who had an argument with Abraham about his Lord, because God had given him the kingdom?} (2: 258)
Abraham’s logic was undeniable:
{‘My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death.’  He answered: ‘I give life and cause death.’} (2: 258)
The king brought forth two men sentenced to death. He freed one and condemned the other, a reply which was out of the context and utterly stupid, what made Abraham put forth another, one which would surely silence him: 
{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.} (2: 258)
For the Sake of God
After years of ceaseless calling, faced with the rejection of his people, God commanded Abraham to disassociate from his family and people:
{Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides God, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred forever, until you believe in God Alone.} (60: 4)
At least two persons in his family did, however, accept his exhortation; Lot, his nephew, and Sarah, his wife. Thus, Abraham migrated along with the other believers:
{So Lot believed in him (Abraham). He (Abraham) said: ‘I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’} (29: 26)
They migrated together to a blessed land, the land of Canaan, or Greater Syria: 
{And We rescued him and Lot to the land which We have blessed for the worlds.} (21: 71)
It was here, in this blessed land that God chose to bless Abraham with progeny:
{…We (God) bestowed upon him Isaac and (a grandson) Jacob.  Each one We made righteous.} (21: 72)
{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…} (6: 83-87)
His descendents were Prophets, chosen for the guidance of his nation: 
{And We made them leaders, guiding (humankind) by Our Command, and We inspired in them the doing of good deeds, performing prayers, and the giving of Zakat and of Us (Alone) they were worshippers.} (21: 73)
In Egypt
In Canaan, Abraham stayed for several years going from city to city preaching and inviting people to God until a famine forced him and Sarah to migrate to Egypt. In Egypt was a despotic Pharaoh who had the passionate desire to take possession of married women.
The Pharaoh took Sarah into his harem and honored Abraham for it, but when his house was stricken with severe plagues, he came to know that she was the wife of Abraham and chastised him for not telling him so, thus banishing him from Egypt.
Abraham had known that Sarah would catch his attention, so he told her that if the Pharaoh asked her, that she should say that she is the sister of Abraham. When they entered his kingdom, as expected, the Pharaoh asked about his relationship with Sarah, and Abraham replied that she was his sister. Although the answer did alleviate some of his passion, Pharaoh still took her captive. But the protection of the Almighty saved her from his evil plot. When Pharaoh summoned Sarah to act on his demented passions, Sarah turned to God in prayer.
The moment Pharaoh reached for Sarah, his upper body stiffened. He cried to Sarah in distress, promising to release her if she would pray for his cure! She prayed for his release. But only after a failed third attempt did he finally desist.  Realizing their special nature, he let her go and returned her to her supposed brother. Sarah returned while Abraham was praying, accompanied by gifts from the Pharaoh, along with Hagar as a handmaiden.
After they had returned to Palestine, Sarah and Abraham continued to be childless, despite divine promises that he would be granted a child. As the gifting of a handmaid by a barren woman to her husband in order to produce offspring seems to be a common practice of that day, Sarah suggested to Abraham to take Hagar as his wife. While in Palestine, Hagar bore him a son, Ishmael.
A Major Test in Makkah
When Ishmael was still nursing, God yet again chose to test the faith of his beloved Abraham and commanded him to take Hagar and Ishmael to a barren valley of Bakka, 700 miles southeast of Hebron. In later times it would be called Makkah.
A great test indeed; he and his family had longed for such a time for offspring, and when their eyes were filled with the joy of an heir, the commandment was enacted to take him to a distant land, one known for its barrenness and hardship.
So Abraham, after having sojourned with Hagar and Ishmael, left them there with a skin of water and leather bag full of dates. As Abraham began walking away leaving them behind, Hagar became anxious as to what was happening. Abraham did not look back. Hagar-as mentioned in hadith by Al-Bukhari- chased him:
“O Abraham, where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we can enjoy, nor is there anything here?”
Abraham hurried his pace with Hagar asking:
“Has God asked you to do so?”
Abraham suddenly stopped, turned back and answered.
Feeling a degree of comfort in this answer, Hagar asked: “O Abraham, to whom are you leaving us?”
“I am leaving you to God’s care,” Abraham replied.
Submitted to her Lord with relief, Hagar said:
“I am satisfied to be with God!”
While she traced her way back to little Ishmael, without looking back, Abraham proceeded until he reached a narrow pass in the mountain where they would not be able to see him. He stopped there and invoked God in prayer:
{Our Lord! I have settled some of my offspring in a valley barren from any cultivation, by your Sacred House, our Lord, so they may establish the prayer. So make the hearts of people yearn towards them, and provide them with all types of fruits that they may be grateful.} (14: 37)
Soon, the water and dates were gone and Hagar’s desperation increased. Unable to quench her thirst or to breastfeed her little baby, Hagar began searching for water.  Leaving Ishmael under a tree, she began climbing the rocky incline of a nearby hill.
“Maybe there is a caravan passing by,” she thought to herself. She ran between the two hills of Safa and Marwa seven times looking for signs of water or help, later personified by all Muslims in Hajj. Fatigued and distraught, she heard a voice, but could not locate its source.
Then, looking down in the valley, she saw an angel (who is identified as Gabriel in Islamic sources) standing next to Ishmael. The angel dug into the ground with his heel next to the baby, and water came gushing out.
It was a miracle!
This well, called Zamzam, is flowing to this day in the city of Makkah in the Arabian Peninsula.

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