Friday, 20 May 2011

Prophet Ibrahim (2)

As you may recall, most of the people at the time of Ibrahim (alayhis salam) were idol worshippers. There were very few people who heeded the words of Ibrahim (alayhis salam). One of the people who did follow in the way of Allah was his wife, Sarah. She and Ibrahim (alayhis salam) had been married for many years but did not have any children. As they became more elderly, it seemed apparent that they would never have a family. Sarah therefore gave Ibrahim (alayhis salam) her slavewoman, Hajra, as a wife, in the hopes that she would be able to bear a child for him. Ibrahim (alayhis salam) prayed for a righteous son and his prayer was answered. To him and Hajra was born the son Ismail (alayhis salam).

Ismail (alayhis salam) grew up strong in the belief of Allah. When he had become old enough to have become helpful, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) saw in a vision from Allah that he was to sacrifice his son. You can imagine how heavy-hearted he was at the thought of giving up that long-awaited son. But he never thought to go against the command of Allah. He went to his son and told him of the vision and asked him what he thought of it. Now Ismail (alayhis salam), although very young, never hesitated. If it was Allah’s will, he said, he would go along with it.

Ibrahim (alayhis salam) and Ismail (alayhis salam) prepared for the sacrifice and just as Ibrahim (alayhis salam) was about to perform it, Allah intervened. Allah provided a ram for sacrifice in place of Ismail (alayhis salam), for Ibrahim (alayhis salam) and Ismail (alayhis salam) had passed the test of faith which Allah had set for them.

Some time later, the angels who were being sent to Lut (alayhis salam) stopped at Ibrahim’s (alayhis salam) home. When he saw the two strangers, he roasted a calf in order to entertain them. When he saw that they did not eat, he mistrusted and feared them. But they told him not to be afraid. Sarah was there and she laughed when they told her she would have a son. She couldn’t believe it. She was an old woman and her husband an old man. They told her not to wonder at Allah’s decree, for he can do all things.

Ibrahim (alayhis salam), too, couldn’t believe his ears when they told him that he would father another son endowed with wisdom. He asked the messengers how they could say such a thing when he was such an old man. But they assured him that they were telling the truth.

Just as the angels had foretold, a son was born to Sarah and Ibrahim (alayhis salam). He was named Ishaaq (alayhis salam) and he later became the father of Yaqub (alayhis salam). It is from Ishaaq (alayhis salam) that the children of Israel trace their roots.

It is from Ismail (alayhis salam), Ibrahim’s (alayhis salam) first-born son, that the people of Arabia trace their lineage. Thus can two peoples, the Jews and the Arabs, trace their beginnings back to a single ancestor, Ibrahim (alayhis salam), the father of Ismail (alayhis salam) and Ishaaq (alayhis salam).

You can read about Ibrahim (alayhis salam) and his sons in the following surat of the Qur’an 11:69-76, 15:51-56, and 37: 99-111.

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