Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) is one of the greatest Prophets of Allah. The Holy Qur'an says: "Ibraaheem was certainly a model of faith for the people, obedient to Allah and upright, and was not an idolater but grateful to Him for His favours; so He chose him and guided him on the right path, and gave him what is good in this world, and in the hereafter he will be amongst the righteous ones." (Qur'an 16:120-122)
Prophet Ibraaheem's (AS) childhood
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was born in Syria at the time when Namrood was the king. Namrood was a proud man and forced the people to believe in him as their god. Since the people were idolaters, who already worshipped idols of wood and stone, they willingly accepted him as their god. After some time, Allah decided to send Prophet Ibraaheem to these people so they may be guided.
A short while before Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was born, Namrood was told by his astrologers that a child would soon be born, who would stand against him and tell the people to stop worshipping idols. After that warning, Namrood ordered that all new born babies should be examined carefully to see if they showed any signs or miracles.
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS)'s mother had shown no signs of pregnancy when she carried him, so she knew that her baby was special. To protect him from Namrood's men, she hid the baby in a cave and returned to the town. Allah caused milk to flow from the fingers of Prophet Ibraaheem and thus provided him with a source of food.
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) grew up outside the town for 13 years before his mother brought him to her home secretly. His father, Taarikh, had already died, so he was adopted by Aazar, his father's brother. Aazar was a famous sculptor who used to make idols out of stone. His sons used to sell these idols to the people. Aazar gave Prophet Ibraaheem the same job as his sons.
Even in his young age, Prophet Ibraaheem already believed in Allah and he hated idols. On the first day of his job, he tied a rope around some idols and dragged them through the dirt to the market-place. He then called to the people, "Come and buy these lifeless idols who can neither benefit nor harm anybody."
The people looked at the dirty idols and were angry at the disrespect that Prophet Ibraaheem had shown to their gods. They complained to Aazar and Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was not allowed to sell any more idols. As time passed, Prophet Ibraaheem tried to show the people the error of their ways. He first approached his uncle, who was like a father to him, and advised him to serve Allah and abandon the idols.
The Holy Qur'an records his conversation with Aazar in the following verses: "O my father! Serve not the Shaitaan, surely the Shaitaan is disobedient to the Beneficent Allah." "O my father! Surely, I fear that a punishment from the Beneficent Allah should afflict you so that you should be a friend of the Shaitaan. He said: Do you dislike my gods, O Ibraaheem? If you do not desist I will certainly revile you, and leave me for a time. He (Ibraaheem) said: Peace be on you, I will pray to my Lord to forgive you; surely He is ever Affectionate to me." (Qur'an 19:44-47)
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and the helpless Idols
Although he was unsuccessful with Aazar, Prophet Ibraaheem did not lose hope and began preaching to the people. He used to tell them, "Can your idols hear you? Can they ever help you or harm you?" They would say, "We worship them because our forefathers worshipped them." Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) would then teach them that only Allah, the Creator of the heavens and earth, should be served.
Although the people could not answer Prophet Ibraaheem's arguments against their idols, they were stubborn and only a few people listened to him and began praying Allah. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) then decided to show the people how useless their idols were by destroying them. He got his chance during the annual festival, which was held outside the town.
On the day of the festival, when all the people, young and old, had left the town, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was alone. He went to the main temple where all the important idols were kept. He took an axe and broke all the idols except the largest one. The idols, which had been kept neat and tidy, now lay in pieces on the ground. Before he left the temple, Prophet Ibraaheem put the axe in the hands of the largest, unbroken, idol.
The Holy Qur'an says: "When he (Ibraaheem) said to his father and his people, "What are these images to which you turn (in devotion)?" They said, "We found our fathers (ancestors) worshipping them." He (Ibraaheem) said, "Indeed you and your fathers were in a clear error." They said, "Have you really brought us the truth or are you only a joker?" He said, "No! Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who has created them. And I am a witness to this (Truth). And, by God! I will plan against your idols when your backs are turned!" So he broke them into pieces, except the chief of them, so they could return to it." (Qur'an 21:52-58)
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) had broken all the idols except the largest one in the main temple while the people were celebrating their festival outside the town. When they returned and found what had happened to their gods, they were shocked and said, "Who has done this cruel thing to our lords?" One of them said, "It must be Ibraaheem. He has always hated idol worship."
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and the Court of Namrood
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was brought to court to face trial for damaging the idols. When he was asked whether he was guilty he replied, "It must have been done by the biggest idol. Ask him about it." But the people said, "Our idols do not talk or answer questions." Now Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) took the opportunity to make the people understand how useless their idols were. He said, "Shame on you! How can you worship pieces of wood and stone? They do not know anything and can neither harm nor benefit you." However, nobody was willing to listen to his words and he was declared guilty. The people began to shout, "Burn him alive! Let him be with his Lord."
Namrood decided to burn Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) alive to please his idols. He ordered that wood be collected to make a huge bonfire. So much wood was brought that when the fire was lit, no one could get close enough to throw Prophet Ibraaheem into it. Namrood decided to build a large catapult and Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was thrown into the fire using this catapult. When Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was flying in the air towards the fire, the angel Jibraeel came to ask him if he needed his help. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) replied, "No I need help from Allah only."
The Holy Qur'an says: They said, "Burn him to ashes if you want to help your gods." We (Allah) said, "O Fire, be cold and peaceful for Ibraaheem." (Qur'an 21:68-69)
The Miracle of Fire and the Stubbornness of Namrood
When Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) landed in the fire he prayed to Allah to protect him. By Allah's command, the fire became cool and harmless. Namrood and his followers were amazed to see Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) sitting calmly and comfortably in the middle of the burning fire. Many who saw this miracle realized the truth of his teachings but others, especially Namrood, remained proud and stubborn. After a while, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) came out of the fire and met Namrood who told him, "You are creating confusion in my community by inviting them to worship another lord besides me. Tell me Who is your Lord?"
The Holy Qur'an says: "Have you thought about the one (Namrood) who argued with Ibraaheem about his Lord, because Allah had given him the kingdom?" Ibraaheem said to him, "My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death." He (Namrood) said, "I (also) give life and cause death." (Then) Ibraaheem said, "Allah makes the sun rise from the east, (why don't) you bring it from the west." Thus the unbeliever was baffled and Allah does not guide unjust people. (Qur'an 2:258)
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) told Namrood that Allah is the One who gives and takes away life. Namrood said, "I can also do that. If I call two prisoners who are going to be hanged, and let one go free and kill the other, I have given one life and the other death." Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) replied, "No, you are only right if you bring the dead one back to life. Anyway, my Lord makes the sun rise in the east. If you are so powerful, make it rise from the west." Namrood could not reply to this argument and was defeated. However, he remained stubborn and did not accept the religion of Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) .
Namrood knew that he could not harm Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) , because he was under the protection of Allah. So he ordered Prophet Ibraaheem to leave his kingdom and stopped everybody from following his religion. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) thus left his homeland with his family and sheep. He took with him his wife Saarrah, and his cousin Prophet Lut and left for Palestine .
Maulatana Saarrah's (AS) dignity
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) had been told to leave the country by the king, Namrood. He took his family and left for Bayt ul-Muqaddas in Palestine . His wife Saarrah was a beautiful woman, so to guard her from the eyes of the people; he would put her in a box whenever they came to a town. When they were travelling in the middle of the desert, he would let her out.
After some time, they arrived in a new country, which was ruled by an Arab king. The guard at the border wanted to check the box in which Saarrah lay hidden. Prophet Ibraaheem told the guard, "You may suppose that the box is full of gold and silver and I will pay the tax for that, but do not open the box." However, the guard insisted that he had to see what Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was carrying and so he opened the box. When he saw Saarrah, he took Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) to the king.
When they came before the king, he was attracted to the beauty of Saarrah and he reached out to touch her. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) prayed to Allah to protect the honour and dignity of his wife. At his prayer, the king's hand turned into a solid block of wood. The king begged Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) to pray to Allah to give him his hand back, saying that he would not look at Saarrah again. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) prayed and the king's hand became normal again.
After talking for a while with Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) , the king looked up at Saarrah and could not resist making the same mistake as before. As he tried to touch her, his hand dried up like a piece of wood. He turned to Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) , once more begging for Allah's forgiveness and asking for his hand back. Prophet Ibraaheem told him that he would pray for him one last time. He said, "O my Lord, if this man is truly sorry, then change his hand to its original form."
Through this prayer, the king was cured. He was impressed with the power of Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) , and accepted his faith. He treated Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) with great respect and presented him with a maid called Haajarah (AS) , to serve Saarrah, and allowed them to go wherever they wanted.
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and the Star worshippers
On his way to Bayt ul-Muqaddas, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) came across a group of people who worshipped the stars. These people were called the Magi. He decided to guide them towards Allah. To teach them the error of their ways, he used a very polite way of approach. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) introduced himself as a star-worshipper also and then sat down at night to worship with them.
The Holy Qur'an says: We showed Ibraaheem the kingdom of the heavens and the earth to strengthen his faith. When it became dark, he saw a star and said, "This is my Lord." But when it set, he said, "I do not love those who fade away." When he saw the moon rising, he said, "This is my Lord." And when it set he said, "Had my Lord not guided me I would certainly have gone astray." Then when he saw the sun rising he said, "This is my Lord, this is the greatest one" And then when it (also) set, he said, "O my people, I am not part of what you associate with God." (Qur'an 6:77-79)
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) got the people's attention by claiming that the star, then the moon, and finally, the sun, were his gods. But as each of these set, he turned away from them saying, "I am sick of these ever-changing creations. I believe in Allah, Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. I do not belong to those who believe in partners to Allah or the idol-worshippers."
Although Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) used this polite way of teaching and proved how useless their worship was, the Magi continued to argue with him. He said, "Why do you argue with me about Allah when He has guided me to the right path?" The people refused to believe his words and threatened to harm him and told him to be afraid of the revenge of the stars. Finally Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) left these foolish people and continued on his way to Bayt ul-Muqaddas.
Prophet Ibraaheem's (AS) children
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and Saarrah (AS) could not have any children and this made him very sad. Saarrah then suggested that he marry her maid Haajarah, and perhaps Allah would give them a child. Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and Haajarah (AS) were married and Allah blessed them with a son, Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) .
Five years later, Saarrah (AS) also gave birth to a son, Prophet Ishaaq (AS) . Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) is called the father of the Prophets because from his son Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS), came the Arab Prophets, including the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWS); and from his son Prophet Ishaaq, came the Jewish Prophets, including Prophet Isaa (AS).
The title of Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was "Khaleelullaah", which means "Friend of Allah". When the time came for his death, he told the angel who had come to take his soul, "Ask Allah, Does a friend take the life of his friend?" He meant that Allah should not order Prophet Ibraaheem (AS)'s death because he was His friend. The angel of death, Izraa'eel, could not answer this question, so he returned to Allah, Who commanded him to go back to Prophet Ibraaheem and say, "O Ibraaheem, does a friend refuse an invitation to meet his friend?"