What brings persistence and perseverance to a soul drowning deep down in waters bearing layers upon layers of darkness? How does one gain that depth and sagacity which makes one stop looking for support of the others? Where does the motive of foregoing one’s beloved belongings upon just one commandment come from? What is it that makes a person “Khalil Ullah” (Allah’s friend)? These are some of the questions we might ask ourselves in the times of turmoil when everything seems to fall apart, and things go beyond our control. All we want at that moment is someone who could take all the burdens off our shoulders, making us feel as light as a feather.
The answers to all these questions lie in the lifestyle of Ibrahim (A.S). Having been brought up among idol-worshippers, he began his search for the truth, trying to beat the darkness around and within him as his nature did not accept the act of worshipping idols as true. As a child, his father was his first go-to person. So, he approached him and asked, “Do you take idols for gods? I see you and your people in obvious error.” [Quran, 6:74] When he did not get any satisfactory answer from his father, he started pondering over the signs of heavens and the earth using the hit and trial method.
“So, when the night enveloped him, he saw a star. He said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But, when it vanished, he said, ‘I do not like those who vanish.’ And when he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This is my lord.’ But when it set, he said, ‘Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the people gone astray.’ Thereafter, when he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord. This is greater.’ Again, when it vanished, he said, ‘O my people, I disown whatever you associate with Allah. I have, indeed, turned my face straight towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, and I am not one of those who associate partners with Allah.’” [Quran, 6:75-79]
Ibrahim (A.S.) had no holy scripture, no mentor and absolutely no other means of getting to his Lord except through the signs of heavens and the earth, which are sufficient for someone who ponders and reflects. It just takes one to look at these various signs of the universe through his inner eye.
After reaching this conclusion, he adhered to this belief, having a sound heart and without any trace of doubt. He did not move an inch away from it after he got his soul guided and expanded (feeling sheer satisfaction over his belief) no matter what. That is why he is called “Haneefan Musliman” by Allah (SWT). “Haneefan Musliman” is someone who utterly submits to Allah (SWT) while strictly abandoning all the other paths and deities. This attitude is followed by many trials of one’s Iman as Allah wants to see who is, in fact, faithful to Him, and can work for a bigger cause beyond himself and deserves to enter His paradise.
“Jannah is surrounded by hardships, and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by desires/temptations.” [Sahih Muslim: 2822]
Allah (SWT) took several tests of the faith of Ibrahim (A.S.). Ibrahim (A.S.) started preaching monotheism to people, and the first person he spoke to was his father. He began this mission from his home as it is the foremost duty of a preacher to try and save his family from hell-fire before anyone else. Allah (SWT) says,
“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.”
Ibrahim’s father turned him down very harshly by saying that he needed to stop such activity or else he would stone Ibrahim (A.S.) to death after that Ibrahim A.S. reverently said that he would pray for his father’s guidance. Ibrahim (A.S.) gave a message of peace to us by ending the discourse peacefully instead of arguing disrespectfully.
Ibrahim (A.S.) addressed his people openly on this matter and came face to face with the tyrant Nimrod and gave very logical arguments of believing in the supremacy of Allah (SWT). He left all of them speechless with his reasonable justifications, but none of them surrendered due to their conceit and arrogance. Instead of giving arguments in response to Ibrahim’s arguments, they planned to throw him into a fire, the flames of which seemed to touch the sky. This shows what happens when people do not want to accept the truth, and they just want to get rid of those who keep inviting them towards the truth. In this case, too, Ibrahim (A.S.) remained persistent, putting all his trust in Allah SWT. This belief in Allah led to a miracle and Ibrahim (A.S.) was saved from the fire.
After being tested in the love of his parents and his land, Ibrahim was tested through his wife and infant. There, too, he put Allah (SWT) first and did as he was commanded by his Lord; despite the fact that he or his family was not able to comprehend the reasoning behind that commandment.
“When his Lord said to him, ‘Submit!’ He said, ‘I submit myself to the Lord of all the worlds.’” [Quran 2: 131]
When that infant [Ismail (A.S.)], whom he had left behind in a desert in obedience of Allah (SWT) grew up, Allah (SWT) tested him again in the love of his child. Ibrahim (A.S.) was asked to sacrifice the most beloved person in his life for the sake of Allah (SWT), just to see if he loved Allah (SWT) more than his loved ones and if he was ready to sacrifice all his beloved belongings for His sake. This time, too, Ibrahim (A.S.) submitted to the will of Allah (SWT) and decided to slaughter the most precious asset of his life, his beloved son! It was in recognition of his sincere efforts that Allah SWT said,
“And Ibrahim who perfectly fulfilled his convent (showed with his actions what he had said/promised)” [Quran 53:37]
Tests for Ibrahim (A.S.) continued until he took his last breath and perished in submission to the Lord of the Universe. He is the person whom Allah (SWT) took as His friend, yet he was shaken down with numerous trials. It is a universal criterion of Allah (SWT) with which he purifies his slaves that He tests those whom He loves. So, we all should follow Ibrahim (A.S.) by putting forth Allah (SWT) in all matters and have faith that even storms can cease if we put trust in Him. As aptly put by Allah SWT:
“Who can turn away from the faith of Ibrahim except for the one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous.” [Quran 2:130]
By Pakeeza Riaz