The father of the Prophets
The birth of a Great Prophet
Ibrahim was born in a house of idolaters, in the kingdom of Babylon. His father Aazar was a well known idol sculptor that his people worshipped. As a young child, Ibrahim used to watch his father sculpting these idols from stones or wood. When his father was done with them, Ibrahim would use them as toys, riding on their backs, and kicking them at times. Then after a while, he would see these same statues in the temple, and people prostrating in front of them! Ibrahim asked his father: "Why do you take these toys to the temple?" His father said: "They are statues that represent our gods. We worship them, we ask favors from them, and we offer them presents." Ibrahim's mind rejected this idea, and he felt a repulsion towards the idols.
In search for the Truth
Time went by, and Ibrahim became a young man. He still could not believe that his people were worshipping the statues. He laughed whenever he saw them entering the temple, lowering their heads, silently offering the statues the best of their food, crying and asking forgiveness from them. He started feeling angry towards his people, who could not realize that these are only stones that could neither benefit nor harm them. They could not be gods, they have no power. God is Greater than what his people were worshipping, Most Powerful, Most Magnificent. One could not find Him sitting on a table in a temple!
One night, Ibrahim went up to the mountain, leaned against a rock, and looked up to the sky. He saw a shining star, and told his people: "Could this be my Lord?" But when it set he said: "I don't like those that set." The star has disappeared, it could not be God. God is always present. Then he saw the moon rising in splendor and told them: "Could this be my Lord?" But it also set. At daybreak, he saw the sun rising and said: t "Could this be my Lord, this is bigger?" But when the sun set he said: "O my people I am free from all that you join as partners with Allah! I have turned my face towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah." Our Lord is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything. He has the power to make the stars rise and set. Ibrahim then heard Allah calling him: "O Ibrahim!" Ibrahim said trembling: "Here I am O my Lord!" "Submit to Me! Be a Muslim!" Ibrahim fell on the ground, prostrating and crying, he said: "I submit to the Lord of the universe!" Ibrahim kept prostrating until night came again. He got up and went back to his home, in t peace, full of conviction that Allah has guided him to the Truth.
Ibrahim invites his father to Islam
A new life started for Ibrahim. His mission now was to call his people to the Truth. He would start with his father who was the closest person to him, and whom he loved so much. He said to him in the softest and kindest voice: "O father! Why do you worship that which doesn't hear, doesn't see, and cannot avail you in anything? O father, I have got knowledge which you have not, so follow me. I will guide you to a straight path." His father replied angrily: "Do you reject my gods, O Ibrahim? If you don't stop I will stone you. Get away from me before I punish you." Ibrahim said: "Peace be on you! I will ask forgiveness of my Lord for you."
Ibrahim confronts his people and rejects their idols
He left his father after he lost hope to convert him to the right path, and directed his efforts towards the people of the town, but they rejected his call and threatened him. By Allah, he said, I shall plot a plan to destroy their idols. He knew that a big celebration was coming soon, where everybody would leave town for a big feast on the riverbank. After making sure that nobody was left in town, Ibrahim went towards the temple armed with an ax. Statues of all shapes and sizes were sitting there adorned with decorations. Plates of food were offered to them, but the food was untouched. "Well, why don't you eat? The food is getting cold." He said to the statues, joking; then with his ax he destroyed all the statues except one, the biggest of them. He hung the ax around its neck and left.
How big was the shock when the people entered the temple! They gathered inside watching in awe their gods broken in pieces. They wondered who might have done this? Then they all remembered that the young Ibrahim was talking evil of their idols. They brought him to the temple and asked him: "Are you the one who has done this to our gods?" Ibrahim said: "No, this statue, the biggest of them has done it. Ask them if they can speak." "You know well that these idols don't speak!" They said impatiently. "Then how come you worship things that can neither speak nor see, nor even fend for themselves? Have you lost your minds?"
They kept silent for a while, for he got a point there. Their minds and their senses were telling them that the Truth is with Ibrahim, but their pride prevented them to accept it, and reject the idols they were worshipping for generations. This they thought would be total defeat. They started yelling at him and shouting: "Burn him! Burn him! Take revenge for your gods !"
The Miracle: Allah saves Ibrahim from the fire.
The decision to burn Ibrahim to death was affirmed by the priests and the king of Babylon, Nimrod. The news spread like a fire in the kingdom, and people were coming from all places to watch the execution. A huge pit was dug up and a large quantity of wood was piled up. Then the biggest fire people ever witnessed was lit. The fire flames were so high up in the sky that the birds could not fly over it for fear of being burned ! Ibrahim's hands and feet were chained, and he was put in a catapult to throw him into the fire. At that time, Angel Jibreel came to him and said: "O Ibrahim! Is there anything you wish for?" Ibrahim could have asked to be saved from the fire, to be taken away, but no, he said: "I only wish that Allah be pleased with me." The catapult was released, and Ibrahim was thrown in the heart of the fire. But Allah would not allow His Prophet to be killed, He ordered the fire: "O fire! Be coolness and safety for Ibrahim!" And the miracle happened. The fire obeyed and burned only his chains. Ibrahim came out from it as if he was coming out from a garden, peaceful, his face illuminated, and not a trace of smoke on his clothes. People watched in shock and said: "Amazing ! Ibrahim' s God has saved him from the fire!"
Ibrahim debates the Babylonian king, Nimrod
Ibrahim's notoriety grew bigger after this event and the king of Babylon felt that his throne was in danger, and that he was loosing power, because he was pretending that he was a god. He sent for Ibrahim. He wanted to debate with him and show his people that he, the king is indeed the god, and Ibrahim was a liar. He asked Ibrahim: What can your god do that I cannot?
-My Lord is He Who gives life and death." Ibrahim said
-I give life and death. I can bring a person from the street and have him executed, and I can grant my pardon to a person who was sentenced to death and save his life." The king said proudly
-Well my Lord Allah makes the sun rise from the East. Can you make it rise from the West?
The king was confounded. He was beaten at his own game, on his own territory, in front of his own people! Ibrahim left him there speechless and went back to his important mission, calling people to worship the one and only God, Allah.