Know Abraham(pbuh)


 Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH)

Description of Abraham(PBUH) and his Family

Some of the People of the Book stated that his name was Abraham Ibn Tarikh, Ibn Nahur, Ibn Sarough, Ibn Raghu, Ibn Phaligh, Ibn Aher, Ibn Shalih, Ibn Arfghshand, Ibn Sam, Ibn Noah.

They said that when Tarikh was seventy five years old, he had Abraham, Nahor (Nohour) and Haran. Haran had a son named Lot (Lut). They also said that Abraham(pbuh) was the middle child and that Haran died in the lifetime of his father in the land where he was born, the land of the Chaldeans (Al-Kaldanieen), also known as Babylonia. At that time some people worshipped idols of stone and wood; others worshipped the planets, stars, sun and moon; still others worshipped their kings and rulers.

Abraham(pbuh) was born into that atmosphere, into a typical family of that ancient time. The head of the family was not even an ordinary idolater, but was one who totally rejected Allah and who used to make the idols with his own hands. Some traditions claimed that Abraham’s (pbuh) father died before his birth and that he was raised by an uncle whom Abraham called father. Other traditions said that his father was alive and was named Azer.

Into that family Abraham(pbuh) was born, destined to stand against his own family, against the entire system of his community. In brief, he stood against all kinds of polytheism.

Abraham’s (pbuh) Childhood

He was endowed with spiritual understanding from an early age. Allah enlightened his heart and mind and gave him wisdom from childhood.

Allah the Almighty stated: And indeed We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his (portion of) guidance, and We were Well-Acquainted with him (as to his Belief in the Oneness of Allah, etc.). Quran 21: 51

During his early childhood Abraham(pbuh) realized that his father made strange statues. One day, he asked him about what it was he made. His father replied that he made statues of gods. Abraham(pbuh) was astonished and he spontaneously rejected the idea. Being a child, he played with such statues, sitting on their backs as people sit on the backs of donkeys and mules.

One day, his father saw him riding the statue of Mardukh and he became furious. He ordered his son not to play with it again.

Abraham(pbuh) asked: “What is this statue, father? It has big ears, bigger than ours.”

His father answered: “It is Mardukh, the god of gods, son! These big ears show his deep knowledge.”

This made Abraham(pbuh) laugh. He was only seven years old at that time.

Abraham’s(pbuh) Hatred for Idols

Years passed and Abraham(pbuh) grew. Since his childhood his heart had been full of hatred for these idols. He could not understand how a sane person could make a statue and then worship what he had made. He noticed that these idols did not eat, drink, or talk, and that they could not even turn themselves right-side-up if someone turned them up-side down. How, then, could people believe that such statues could harm or benefit them?

Abraham’s(pbuh) people had a big temple full of idols, in the middle of which was a niche accommodating the biggest gods which were of different kinds, qualities, and shapes. Abraham(pbuh), who used to go to the temple with his father when he was a child, greatly despised all that wood and stone. What surprised him was the way his people behaved when they entered the temple: they bowed and started to cry, begging and imploring their gods for help as if the idols could hear or understand these requests!

At first, such a sight seemed funny to Abraham(pbuh), but later he began to feel angry. Was it not astonishing that all those people could be deceived? What added to the problem was that his father wanted him to be a priest when he was grown. He wanted nothing more from his son than that he revere those statues, yet Abraham(pbuh) never stopped displaying his hatred and disdain of them.

Abraham(pbuh) Discovers Allah

One night Abraham left his house to go to a mountain. He walked alone in the dark until he chose a cave in the mountain, where he sat resting his back against its wall. He looked at the sky. He had hardly seen it when he remembered that he was looking at planets and stars which were worshiped by some people on earth. His young heart was filled with tremendous pain.

He considered what was beyond the moon, the stars and the planets (i.e. Allah) and was astonished that these celestial bodies were worshiped by men when they had been created to worship and obey their Creator, appearing and disappearing at His command.

Therefore, Abraham(pbuh) addressed his people who worshiped celestial bodies, as Almighty Allah revealed: Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith with certainty. When the night covered him over with darkness he saw a star. He said: “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said: “I like not those that set.” When he saw the moon rising up he said: “This is my lord.” But when it set he said: “Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among the erring people.” When he saw the sun rising up, he said: “This is my lord. This is greater.” But when it set, he said: “0 my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism, i.e., worshiping none but Allah Alone) and I am not of Al-Mushrikeen (those who worship others besides Allah).”  Quran 6: 75-79

Abraham(pbuh) Reasons with Celestial Worshipper

His people disputed with him. He said: “Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while He has guided me and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember?”

“And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit nor harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any authority. (So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security? If you but know.”

It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong, i.e., by worshiping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided. 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. Quran  7: 80-83

In that debate, Abraham(pbuh) clarified to his people that these celestial bodies do not serve as deities and cannot be worshiped as partners with Allah the Almighty. Indeed, these bodies are created things, fashioned, controlled, managed and made to serve. They appear sometimes and disappear at others, going out of sight from our world. However, Allah the Almighty does not lose sight of anything, and nothing can be hidden from Him. He is without end, everlasting without disappearance. There is no other deity but Allah.

Abraham(pbuh) made clear to them, first, that the celestial bodies are unworthy of worship and, second, that they are among the signs of Allah. Almighty Allah commanded: And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him. Quran 41: 37

The Celestial Worshippers arguments

Abraham’s(pbuh) reasoning helped to reveal the truth, and then the conflict between him and his people began, for the worshipers of the stars and planets did not stand mute. They began arguing and threatening Abraham(pbuh).

Abraham(pbuh) replied: “Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while He has guided me, and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember? And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit nor harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any authority. (So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security? . . . if you but know! It is those who believe (in the oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshiping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.” Quran 6: 80-82

The curtains are drawn on the first category of people, those who were worshiping celestial bodies. The next situation reveals the second group, those who were practicing idolatry.

Abraham reasons with the Idolaters – Quran Chapter:21

Allah gave Abraham(pbuh) the reasoning he needed the first time and every time he argued with his people. Almighty Allah declared: And that was Our Proof which We gave Abraham(pbuh) against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. Quran 6: 83

Abraham(pbuh) did his best to make his people heedful to the belief in the oneness of Almighty Allah and to the worship of Him alone. He bade them to firmly renounce the worship of idols. He said to his father and his people: “What are these images, to which you are devoted?” They said “We found our fathers worshiping them.” He said: “Indeed you and your fathers have been in manifest error.” They said: “Have you brought us the truth, or are you one of those who play about?” He said: “Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who created them and of that I am one of the witnesses.” Quran 21: 52-56

Abraham(pbuh) reasons with his Father

All was finished between Abraham(pbuh) and his people and the struggle began. The most amazed and furious was his father (or his uncle who had raised him), for, as it is well known, he not only worshiped idols but sculptured and sold them as well. Abraham felt that it was his duty as a good son to advise his father against this evil so that he could be saved from Allah’s punishment.

Being a wise son, he did not make his father feel foolish, nor did he openly laugh at his conduct. He told him that he loved him, thereby hoping to generate fatherly love. Then he gently asked him why he worshiped lifeless idols who could not hear, see, or protect him. Before his father could become angry he hastily added: “0 my father! Verily! There has come to me of knowledge that which came not unto you. So follow me. I will guide you to a Straight Path. 0 my father! Worship not Satan. Verily! Satan has been a rebel against the Most Beneficent (Allah). 0 my father! Verily! I fear lest a torment from the Most Beneficent (Allah) overtake you, so that you become a companion of Satan (in the Hell-Fire).”

He (the father) said: “Do you reject my gods, 0 Abraham? If you stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you.” Abraham said: “Peace be on you! I will ask Forgiveness of my Lord for you. Verily! He is unto me, Ever Most Gracious. And I shall turn away from you and from those whom you invoke besides Allah. Quran 19: 43-48

Abraham(pbuh) debates with the Idolaters

His father’s harsh treatment did not stop Abraham(pbuh) from delivering the message of truth. Angry and sad to see people prostrate before idols, he was determined to stamp out these practices and went to the town to debate with the people, knowing full well that he might suffer harm.

Like a wise doctor searching for the cause of a sickness so as to prescribe the proper cure, or like a judge who questions the accused sharply so that he might detect the truth, Abraham(pbuh) asked them: “Do the idols see you when you prostrate before them? Do they benefit you in any way?” They quickly tried to defend their beliefs. They argued that they knew their idols were lifeless but that their forefathers had worshiped them; to them this was proof enough for their belief.

Abraham(pbuh) explained that their forefathers had been wrong. This angered them and they retorted: “Are you condemning our gods and our forefathers? Or are you just joking?”

Abraham(pbuh) showed no fear as he replied: “I am serious. I come to you with a true religion. I have been sent with guidance from our Lord Who alone is worthy of worship, Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and Who regulates all affairs of life, unlike the dumb idols which are just stone and wood.”

To convince them that the idols could not harm him, he challenged: “I have already condemned them; if they had any power they would have harmed me by now!”

Abraham(pbuh) reasons with the Idolaters, Second Time

Almighty Allah recounted: And recite to them the story of Abraham. When he said to his father and his people: “What do you worship?” They said: “We worship idols, and to them we are ever devoted.” He said: “Do they hear you, when you call (on them)? Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?” They said: “Nay, but we found our fathers doing so.”

He said: “Do you observe that which you been worshiping, – You and your ancient fathers? – Verily! They are enemies to me, save the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists); Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; and it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me; and Who will cause me to die and then will bring me to life (again); and Who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of Recompense, (the Day of Resurrection).”  Quran 26: 69-82

In another chapter of Quran The Almighty revealed: And (remember) Abraham when he said to his people: “Worship Allah (Alone), and fear Him, that is better for you if you did but know. You worship besides Allah only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allah have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allah (Alone), and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back. And if you deny, then nations before you have denied (their Messengers). And the duty of the Messenger is only to convey (the Message) plainly.”

Say: “Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated creation, and then Allah will bring forth (resurrect) the creation of the Hereafter (i.e., resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”

He punishes whom He wills, and shows mercy to whom He wills, and to Him you will be returned. And you cannot escape in the earth or in the heaven. And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (Protector or Guardian) nor any Helper. And those who disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and the Meeting with Him, – it is they who have no hope of My Mercy, and it is they who will have a painful torment.

Abraham(pbuh) breaks the Idols

He explained to them the beauty of Allah’s creation, His power and wisdom. Idol worship is detested by Allah, for Allah is the Lord of the universe who created mankind, guided him, provided him with food and drink, and cured him when he was sick, and who will cause him to die and be raised up again. It was He to whom Abraham(pbuh) prayed and who would forgive his sins on the Day of Judgment. However, they would not give up but clung fast to idolatry.

Abraham(pbuh) left his father’s house and abandoned his people and what they worshiped. He decided to do something about their state of disbelief, but did not reveal it. He knew that there was going to be a great celebration on the other bank of the river which would be attended by all the people. Abraham(pbuh) waited until the city was empty, then came out cautiously, directing his steps towards the temple. The streets leading to it were empty and the temple itself was deserted, for the priests had also gone to the festival outside the city.

Abraham(pbuh) went there carrying a sharp ax. He looked at the stone and wood statues of the gods and at the food laid in front of them as offerings. He approached one of the statues and asked: The food in front of you is getting cold. Why don’t you eat?” The statue kept silent and rigid. Abraham(pbuh) asked the other statues around him: “Will you not eat (of the offering before you)?” Quran 37: 91

He was mocking them for he knew they would not eat. He once again asked then: “What is the matter with you that you do speak not?” Quran 37: 92

He then raised his ax and started smashing the false gods worshiped by the people. He destroyed them all except one, on whose neck he hung the ax. After this his anger subsided and he felt at peace. He left the temple. He had fulfilled his vow to show his people a practical proof of their foolishness in worshiping something other than Allah.

The Idolaters Questions Abraham(pbuh)

When the people returned, they were shocked to see their gods smashed to pieces, lying scattered all over the temple. They began to guess who had done that to their idols, and Abraham’s(pbuh) name came to their minds.

Allah the Almighty said: They said: “Who has done this to our aliah (gods)? He must indeed be one of the wrongdoers.” They said: “We heard a young man talking (against) them who is called Abraham.” They said: “Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may testify.” They said: “Are you the one who has done this to our gods, 0 Abraham?” (Abraham) said: “Nay, this one, the biggest of them (idols) did it. Ask them, if they can speak!”

So they turned to themselves and said: “Verily, you are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers).” Then they turned to themselves (their first thought and said). “Indeed you (Abraham) know well that these (idols) speak not!” (Abraham) said: “Do you then worship besides Allah, things that can neither profit you, nor harm you? Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense?” Quran 21: 59-67

Furious, they demanded that Abraham(pbuh) be arrested and tried. Abraham(pbuh) did not resist. This was precisely what he had been aiming for, so that he could show them up in public for their foolish beliefs.

At the trial they asked him if he was responsible for breaking the idols. Smiling, he told them to ask the biggest idol, which was still whole. He told them that he must be the culprit! They replied that he knew well that the idol could not speak or move, which gave Abraham(pbuh) the chance to prove the foolishness of worshiping these lifeless objects.

They then realized the senselessness of their beliefs; however, their arrogance would not allow them to admit their foolishness. All they could do was use their power of authority – as tyrants usually do – to punish Abraham(pbuh). They kept him in chains and planned their revenge.

The Idolaters try to burn Abraham(pbuh)

Anger was burning in their hearts. They decided to throw Abraham(pbuh) into the biggest fire they could build. All the citizens were ordered to gather wood as a service to their gods. Ignorant, sick women vowed that if they were cured they would donate so much wood to burn Abraham(pbuh). For several days they collected fuel.

They dug a deep pit, filled it with firewood and ignited it. They brought a catapult with which to cast Abraham(pbuh) into the fire. Abraham(pbuh) was put on the catapult, his hands and feet tied. The fire was ready with its flames reaching the sky. The people stood away from the pit because of the great heat. Then the chief priest gave his order to cast Abraham(pbuh) into the fire.

The angel Gabriel came near Abraham’s(pbuh) head and asked him: “0 Abraham(pbuh), do you wish for anything?” Abraham(pbuh) replied: “Nothing from you.”

The catapult was shot, and Abraham(pbuh) was cast into the fire, but his descent into the blaze was as a descent on steps in a cool garden. The flames were still there, but they did not burn, for Allah the Almighty had issued His command: “0 fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham.” Quran 21: 69

The fire submitted to the will of Allah, becoming cool and safe for Abraham(pbuh). It only burned his bonds, and he sat in the midst of the fire as if he were sitting in a garden. He glorified and praised Allah the Almighty, with a heart that contained only his love for Allah. There was not any vacant space therein for fear, awe, or worry. It was filled with love only.

Fear and awe were dead, and the fire was turned into coolness, making the air pleasant. Those who love Allah as Abraham(pbuh) did do not fear.

The Faith of the Believers

Almighty Allah declared: Those (i.e., believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said: “Verily, the people (pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them.” But it (only) increased them in Faith, and they said: ‘Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).”

So they returned with Grace and Bounty from Allah. No harm touched them; and they followed the good Pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty. It is only Satan that suggests to you the fear of his Auliya supporters and friends (polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad), so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers.” Quran 3: 173-175

The People’s reaction to the fire

The throng, the chiefs, and the priests sat watching the fire from a distance. It was burning their faces and nearly suffocating them. It kept burning for such a long time that the disbelievers thought it would never be extinguished.

When it did burn out, they were greatly amazed to find Abraham(pbuh) coming out of the pit untouched by the fire. Their faces were black from the smoke, but his was bright with the light and grace of Allah. The raging fire had become cool for Abraham(pbuh) and had only charred the ropes which held him. He walked out of the fire as if he were walking out of a garden. Cries of astonishment were heard from the heathens.

They wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers. Quran 21:70

This miracle shamed the tyrants, but it did not cool the flame of anger in their hearts. However, after this event many of the people followed Abraham(pbuh), although some kept their belief a secret for fear of harm or death at the hands of the rulers.

Abraham’s(pbuh) dialogue with Namrud

Abraham(pbuh) had established a definite reasoning against idolaters. Nothing was left for him except to reason against the people who proclaimed themselves gods.

When the king, Namrud, heard of Abraham’s(pbuh) safe exit from the fire he became very angry. He feared that the status of godhead he had proclaimed for himself was now challenged by an ordinary human being. He summoned Abraham(pbuh) to the palace and held a dialogue with him, which Allah the Almighty recounted: Have you not thought about him who disputed with Abraham about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Abraham said (to him). ‘My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death.” He said: “I give life and cause death.” Abraham said: “Verily! Allah causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it you to rise from the west.” So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimeen (wrongdoers, etc.). Quran 2: 258

Abraham(pbuh) emigrates

Abraham’s(pbuh) fame spread throughout the entire kingdom. People talked about how he had been saved from the blazing fire and how he had debated with the king and left him speechless. In the meantime, Abraham(pbuh) continued calling people to believe in Allah, exerting a great effort to guide his people to the right path.

He tried every means to convince them. However, in spite of his love and care for his people, they felt angry and deserted him. Only one woman and one man of his people shared his belief in Allah. The woman’s name was Sarah and she became his wife. The man’s name was Lot (Lut)(pbuh), and he became a prophet.

When Abraham(pbuh) realized that no one else was going to believe in his call, he decided to emigrate. He left his people and traveled with his wife and Lot(pbuh) to a city called Ur, then to another called Haran, and then to Palestine.

Allah the Almighty told us: So Lot believed in him (Abraham’s message of Islamic Monotheism). He (Abraham) said: “I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily. He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. Surah 29: 26

After Palestine, Abraham(pbuh) traveled to Egypt, calling people to believe in Allah wherever he traveled, judging fairly between people, and guiding them to truth and righteousness.

Hadith about Abraham(pbuh), Sarah, and Hajar

Abu Hurairah narrated that Abraham(pbuh) did not tell a lie except on three occasions, twice for the sake of Allah (Exalted and Almighty) when he said: “I am sick,” (when his people were holding a festival in honor of their gods, Abraham excused himself by saying he was sick; see Surah 37: 89), and when he said: “(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it.” The (third was) that while Abraham and Sarah (his wife) were going (on a journey), they passed by (the territory of) a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant: ‘This man (i.e., Abraham ) is accompanied by a very charming lady.” So, he sent for Abraham and asked him about Sarah saying: “Who is this lady?” Abraham said: “She is my sister.”

Abraham went to Sarah and said: “0 Sarah! There are no believers on the surface of the earth except you and me. This man asked me about you and I have told him that you are my sister, do not contradict my statement.” The tyrant then called Sarah, and when she went to him, he tried to take hold of her with his hand, but (his hand got stiff and) he was confounded. He asked Sarah: “Pray to Allah for me, and I shall not harm you.” So Sarah asked Allah to cure him and he got cured. He tried to take hold of her for the second time, but (his hand got as stiff as or stiffer than before and) he was more confounded. He again requested Sarah: “Pray to Allah for me, and I will not harm you.” Sarah asked Allah again, and he became all right. He then called one of his guards (who had brought her) and said: ‘You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil.”

The tyrant then gave Hajar as a maid servant to Sarah. Sarah came back (to Abraham) while he was praying. Abraham, gesturing with his hand, asked: “What has happened?” She replied: “Allah has spoiled the evil plot of the infidel (or immoral person) and gave me Hajar for service.” Abu Hurairah then addressed his listeners saying:’That (Hajar) was your mother, 0 Bani Ma-is-Sama (i.e., the Arab, the descendants of Ishmael, Hajar’s son).”

Hajar and Sarah

Abraham’s(pbuh) wife Sarah was sterile. She had been given an Egyptian woman, Hajar, as a servant. Abraham had aged, and his hair was gray after many years spent in calling people to Allah. Sarah thought that she and Abraham were lonely because she could not have a child. Therefore, she offered her husband her servant Hajar in marriage. Hajar gave birth to her first son Ishmael (Ismail) when Abraham(pbuh) was an old man.

Abraham(pbuh) questions Resurrection

Abraham(pbuh) lived on earth worshiping Allah and calling people to monotheism, but he was journeying to Allah, knowing that his days on earth were limited and that they would be followed by death, and finally, resurrection. The knowledge of life after death filled Abraham(pbuh) with peace, love, and certitude.

One day, he begged Allah to show him how He brought the dead back to life. Allah commanded Abraham(pbuh) to take four birds, cut them up, mingle their body parts, divide them into four portions, and place them on top of four different hills, then call back the birds in Allah’s name. Abraham(pbuh) did as he was told. Immediately the mingled parts of the birds separated to join their original bodies in different places, and the birds flew back to Abraham(pbuh).

Almighty Allah revealed: And (remember) when Abraham said: ‘My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” Allah said: “Do you not believe?” Abraham said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”  Quran 2: 260

 

What is Prophethood?


PROPHETHOOD IN ISLAM

The concept of prophethood is found in the three great monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In Islam, however, it has a special status and significance.

According to Islam, Allah created man to worship Him and to lead a virtuous life based on His teachings and guidance. But how can man know and fulfill his role and the purpose of his existence if he does not receive clear and practical instructions of what Allah wants him to do?

The existence of prophethood, by which Allah sent a prophet to every nation to reveal His message in terms that the people could understand, has answered this question most effectively.

One might ask: How were the prophets chosen and which individuals were so honored?

Prophethood is Allah’s blessing and a favor that is bestowed on an individual chosen by Him to convey His message. From studying the lives of the prophets that have appeared, we notice several characteristics:

1. He is the best person in his community as regards morality and intellectual ability. This is necessary, for a prophets life serves as a model for his followers. His personality should not drive people away from his message, but rather inspire them to accept it and to

transform their own lives. After receiving the message, he is infallible on all matters dealing with the revelation. Although he might commit some small mistakes, but not in any matter that concerns the revelation, he cannot commit a sin.

2. He is supported by miracles, which derive from the power and permission of Allah and not of the prophet himself, to prove that he is not an impostor. Such miracles are direct challenges to the powers that be, for they do not follow the rules laid down by the

Experts in the affected field or activity By way of illustration, let us review some of the miracles recorded in the Old Testament, the New testament, and the Qur’an.

Moses’ Egyptian contemporaries excelled in magic. Thus his major miracle was to defeat the best magicians that the society could offer.

Jesus’ contemporaries were skilled physicians, and so he raised the dead and cured those suffering from incurable diseases.

Muhammad’s contemporaries were known for their eloquence and magnificent poetry. Therefore Muhammad’s major miracle was the Qur’an, which no poet could imitate or surpass, despite their repeated and vigorous efforts to do so.

All previous miracles were limited to a specific people living at a specific time.

This is not the case with the Qur’an, however, for this miracle is universal and everlasting. Although previous generations actually witnessed it, all future generations will continue to witness its miraculous nature in term of its style, content, and spiritual impact and message.

This ability of the Qur’an to rise above the limits imposed by time and space on all other miracles proves its divine origin.

3. Every prophet states clearly that what he receives comes from Allah and that it is for the well-being of humanity. He confirms what was revealed previously and what may be revealed by a future prophet, for his task is to convey the message entrusted to him by

Allah. Thus the revealed message is always the same in essence and purpose-it cannot deviate from prior or future revelations.

Prophets are necessary for conveying God’s instructions and guidance to mankind. Without this knowledge, we would be unable to answer the fundamental questions of our existence:

Why were we created? What happens after death? Is there an afterlife? Are we accountable for our actions? Is there any future reward or punishment for what we do? What about Allah, His angels, heaven, and hell?

Each of these questions, and all others, are answered in the revelation brought by the prophet. But in order for his community to believe and accept them, the prophet must be brought by individuals who have attained a position of trust and respect among their people. This is why he must be morally and intellectual superior to his contemporaries.

Based on this understanding, Muslims reject some of the stories found in the Old Testament concerning the prophets.

For example: The prophet Lot engaging in fornication-with his own daughters when

drunk, or the prophet David sending one of his military leaders to his death so that he could marry his wife. it is inconceivable to Muslims that a prophet of Allah could do such things.

Prophets are also miraculously supported by God and instructed by Him to affirm the continuity of His message. In brief, the divine revelation consists of the following information:

a) A clear concept of God, His attributes and creation, and what should and should not be ascribed to Him.

b) A clear idea about the unseen world, angels and jinn (spirits), paradise and hell.

c) Why has God created us? What does He want from us? Will we be rewarded (or punished) for obeying (or disobeying) Him?

d) A clear explanation of how to order our societies according to His will. This involves the implementation of a law that, when applied correctly and honestly, will bring about a happy and ideal society.

As we have seen in the above discussion, there is no substitute for prophets. Despite the tremendous and impressive advancements of modern science, even it cannot provide authentic information about the supernatural world or provide guidance. Its very nature, which is too materialistic and limited, precludes it from serving this purpose. Mystic experience is also unsuitable, for it is too subjective and, frequently, too misleading.

Now one might ask: How many prophets has Allah sent to humanity?

Although we cannot answer this question definitively, some Muslim scholars place the number at two hundred forty thousand. We are only sure of what is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an: God has sent one or more messengers to each nation, for He would not be just if he were to hold a nation to account for its actions w shout first informing its people of what is allowed and what is not.

The Qur’an mentions twenty-five prophets by name (i.e., Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, who are considered the greatest of all the prophets) and indicates that there were others not known to Muhammad. Muslims are required to believe in and to respect all of the messengers of Allah without exception.

Since all the prophets come from the same God and for the same purpose-to lead   humanity to Allah-belief in them all is essential and logical. If some are accepted and others are rejected, it is due to the individual’s misunderstanding of the prophet’s role or of racial (or other) bias.

The Muslims are unique in considering belief in all of the prophets of God to be an article of faith. The Jews reject Jesus Christ and Muhammad; the Christians reject Muhammad and, in reality, reject Moses because they do not abide by his laws.

The Muslims accept them all as messengers of God who brought guidance to mankind.

However, this acceptance is characterized with a degree of caution, for the Qur’an and the Prophet states the revelation conveyed by those prophets has been distorted and corrupted by those who received it.

We read in the Qur’an:

Say (O Muslims), we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and their children, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that the prophets received from their Lord. We maize no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered. (2:136)

The Qur’an tells the Muslims that this is the true and impartial belief. If other nations share this belief, it means that they are on the right track. If they do not share this belief, it means that they are following their own whims and biases.

The Qur’an says:

So if they believe in the same as you believe in, then they have been [rightly] guided; but if they turn away, they are only in dissension, and Allah will be sufficient for you against them. And He is the Hearing, the Knowing. [And say, “Ours is] the religion of Allah. And who is better than Allah in [ordaining] religion? And we are worshippers of Him.” (2:137-38)

There are two important points that need to be clarified about the roles of Jesus and Muhammad, as they are usually misunderstood and distorted. In the case of Jesus, the Qur’an rejects completely the Christian assertion of his divinity and his status of the “son” of God.

It also states that the unusual circumstances of his birth-without a father-does not make him a “son” of God, for if this logic were followed to its logical conclusion, Adam, who had no father and no mother, would be greater than Jesus, for: Truly the likeness of Jesus, in God’s sight, is as Adam’s likeness; He created him of dust, then said unto him, “Be,” and he was (3:59).

Like other prophets, Jesus performed miracles: he raised the dead and cured the blind and the lepers. He also made it perfectly clear that these miracles were done by God, not by him. But his message was distorted, because it was not recorded in his presence and under his direction, but only about one hundred years after his death.

According to the Qur’an, Jesus was sent to the children of Israel to confirm the Torah of Moses and to bring glad tidings of a final messenger who would come after him:

 

And when Jesus son of Mary said, Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall

come after me, whose name shall be the praised one. (61:6)

(the underlined portion is the translation of Ahmad, which is also a name of the Prophet Muhammad).

 

However, the majority of the Jews rejected his ministry and plotted against his life. The Qur’anic account of his death differs from the one found in the New Testament: he was not killed or crucified, but rather was raised to heaven by God. It is also implied that Jesus will return one day and that all of the Christians and Jews will believe in

him before he dies. This is also supported by authentic sayings of the

Prophet Muhammad.

Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last prophet of God, was born in Makkah in the sixth century CE. Until the age of forty, he was known as a man of excellent character and cultured manners. These characteristics earned for him the nickname of al-Amin (The Trustworthy). There

were no prior indications that Allah had chosen him to be His last messenger. Once he was entrusted with this task, however, he began calling his idol-worshipping people to Islam. The revelation was recorded during his lifetime in writing and in the memory of his followers. The care taken to preserve each revelation as it was transmitted by the Prophet ensured that it would reach future generations in an uncorrupted form. As Allah has stated that the Qur’an would be preserved accurately, it is the source of divine guidance for all time, and the Prophet Muhammad is His final prophet.

Source: WAMY Series on Islam No. 7

Is there life after death?


Muslims believe that the present life is a trial in preparation for the next realm of existence. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed and wrapped in a clean, white cloth (usually by a family member) and buried after a special prayer, preferably the same day. Muslims consider this a final service that they can do for their relatives and an opportunity to remember that their own existence here on earth is brief.

The question of whether there is life after death does not fall under the jurisdiction of science, as science is concerned only with classification and analysis of sense data. Moreover, man has been busy with scientific inquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, only for the last few centuries, while he has been familiar with the concept of life after death since time immemorial.

All the Prophets of God called their people to worship God and to believe in life after death. They laid so much emphasis on the belief in life after death that even a slight doubt in it meant denying God and made all other beliefs meaningless.

The very fact that all the Prophets of God have dealt with this metaphysical question of life after death so confidently and so uniformly – the gap between their ages in some cases, being thousands of years – goes to prove that the source of their knowledge of life after death as proclaimed by them all, was the same, i.e. Divine revelation.

We also know that these Prophets of God were greatly opposed by their people, mainly on the issue of life after death, as their people thought it impossible. But in spite of opposition, the Prophets won many sincere followers.

The question arises: what made those followers forsake the established beliefs, traditions and customs of their forefathers, notwithstanding the risk of being totally alienated from their own community? The simple answer is: they made use of their faculties of mind and heart and realized the truth.

Did they realize the truth through perceptual consciousness? They couldn’t, as perceptual experience of life after death is impossible. God has given man besides perceptual consciousness, rational, aesthetic and moral consciousness too. It is this consciousness that guides man regarding realities that cannot be verified through sensory data. That is why all the Prophets of God while calling people to believe in God and life after death, appeal to the aesthetic, moral and rational consciousness of man.

For example, when the idolaters of Makkah denied even the possibility of life after death, the Quran exposed the weakness of their stand by advancing very logical and rational arguments in support of it:

 And he (i.e. man) presents for Us an example (i.e. attempting to establish the finality of death) and forgets his [own] creation. He says, “Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?” Say, “He will give them life who produced them the first time; and He is, of all creation, Knowing.” [It is] He who made for you from the green tree, fire, and then from it you ignite. Is not He who created the heavens and the earth Able to create the likes of them? Yes, [it is so]; and He is the Knowing Creator.  (Quran, 36:78-81)

On another occasion, the Quran very clearly says that the disbelievers have no sound basis for their denial of life after death. It is based on pure conjecture:

 And they say, “There is not but our worldly life; we die and live (i.e. some people die and others live, replacing them) and nothing destroys us except time.” And they have of that no knowledge; they are only assuming. And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, their argument is only that they say, “Bring [back] our forefathers, if you should be truthful.” Say, “God causes you to live, then causes you to die; then He will assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt,” but most of the people do not know.  (Quran, 45:24-26)

Surely God will raise all the dead. But God has His own plan of things. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and then the dead will be resurrected to stand before God. That day will be the beginning of a life that will never end, and on that day every person will be rewarded by God according to his or her good or evil deeds.

The explanation that the Quran gives about the necessity of life after death is what the moral consciousness of man demands. Actually, if there is no life after death, the very belief in God becomes meaningless or even if one believes in God, it would be n unjust and indifferent God, having once created man and now not being concerned with his fate.

Surely, God is just. He will punish the tyrants, whose crimes are beyond count – having tortured and killed hundreds or thousands of innocent people, created great corruption in society, enslaved numerous persons to serve their whims, etc., because man has a very short life span in this world and because numerous individuals are affected by one’s actions, adequate punishments and rewards are not possible in this life.

The Quran very emphatically states that the Day of Judgment must come and that God will decide the fate of each soul according to his or her record of deeds:

 But those who disbelieve say, “The Hour (i.e. the Day of Judgment) will not come to us.” Say, “Yes, by my Lord, it will surely come to you. [God is] the Knower of the unseen.” Not absent from Him is an atom’s weight within the heavens or within the earth or [what is] smaller than that or greater, except that it is in a clear register – That He may reward those who believe and do righteous deeds. Those will have forgiveness and noble provision. But those who strive against Our verses [seeking] to cause failure (i.e. to undermine their credibility) – for them will be a painful punishment of foul nature.  (Quran, 34:3-5)

The Day of Resurrection will be the Day when God’s attributes of Justice and Mercy will be in full manifestation. God will shower His mercy on those who suffered for His sake in the worldly life, believing that an eternal bliss was awaiting them. But those who abused the bounties of God, caring nothing for the life to come, will be in the most miserable state. Drawing a comparison between them, the Quran says:

 Then is he whom We have promised a good promise which he will meet [i.e. obtain] like he for whom We provided enjoyment of worldly life [but] then he is, on the Day of Resurrection, among those presented [for punishment in Hell]?  (Quran, 28:61)

The Quran also states that this worldly life is a preparation for the eternal life after death. But those who deny it become slaves of their passions and desires, making fun of virtuous and God-conscious persons.

Such persons realize their folly only at the time of their death and wish to be given a further chance in the world but in vain. Their miserable state at the time of death, and the horror of the Day of Judgment, and the eternal bliss guaranteed to the sincere believers are very clearly and beautifully mentioned in the following verses of the Quran:

 [For such is the state of the disbelievers], until, when death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back that I might do righteousness in that which I left behind (i.e. in that which I neglected).” No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected. So when the Horn is blown, no relationship will there be among them that Day, nor will they ask about one another. And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] – it is they who are the successful. But those whose scales are light – those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally. The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles (i.e. their lips having been contracted by scorching until the teeth are exposed).  (Quran, 23:99-104)

The belief in life after death not only guarantees success in the Hereafter but also makes this world full of peace and happiness by making individuals most responsible and dutiful in their activities.

Think of the people ofArabiabefore the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad . Gambling, wine, tribal feuds, plundering and murdering were their main traits when they had no belief in life after death. But as soon as they accepted the belief in the One God and life after death they became the most disciplined nation of the world.

They gave up their vices, helped each other in hours of need, and settled all their disputes on the basis of justice and equality. Similarly the denial of life after death has its consequences not only in the Hereafter but also in this world. When a nation as a whole denies it, all kinds of evils and corruption become rampant in that society and ultimately it is destroyed.

The Quran mentions the terrible end of Aad, Thamud and the Pharaoh in some detail:

 [The tribes of] Thamud and Aad denied the Striking Calamity [i.e. the Resurrection]. So as for Thamud, they were destroyed by the overpowering [blast]. And as for Aad, they were destroyed by a screaming, violent wind which He [i.e. God] imposed upon them for seven nights and eight days in succession, so you would see the people therein fallen as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees. Then do you see of them any remains? And there came Pharaoh and those before him and the overturned cities (i.e. those to whichLotwas sent) with sin. And they disobeyed the messenger of their Lord, so He seized them with a seizure exceeding [in severity]. Indeed, when the water overflowed, We carried you [i.e. your ancestors] in the sailing ship (i.e. which was constructed by Noah). That We might make it for you a reminder and [that] a conscious ear would be conscious of it. (Quran, 69:4-12)

Events of the Day of Judgment

God states in the Quran about the events of the Day of Judgment:

 Then when the Horn is blown with one blast, and the earth and the mountains are lifted and leveled with one blow [i.e. stroke] – Then on that Day, the Occurrence [i.e. Resurrection] will occur, And the heaven will split [open], for that Day it is infirm (i.e. weak, enfeebled and unstable). And the angels are at its edges. And there will bear the Throne of your Lord above them, that Day, eight [of them]. That Day, you will be exhibited [for judgment]; not hidden among you is anything concealed (i.e. any person or any secret you might attempt to conceal). So as for he who is given his record in his right hand, he will say, “Here, read my record! Indeed, I was certain that I would be meeting my account.” So he will be in a pleasant life – In an elevated Garden, Its [fruit] to be picked hanging near. [They will be told], “Eat and drink in satisfaction for what you put forth (i.e. literally, advanced in anticipation of reward in the Hereafter) in the days past.” But as for he who is given his record in his left hand, he will say, “Oh, I wish I had not been given my record, and had not known what is my account. I wish it [i.e. my death] had been the decisive one (i.e. ending life rather than being the gateway to eternal life). My wealth has not availed me. Gone from me is my authority.” [God will say], “Seize him and shackle him. Then into Hellfire drive him. Then into a chain whose length is seventy cubits insert him.” Indeed, he did not used to believe in God, the Most Great. (Quran, 69:13-33)

The Prophet Muhammad  taught that three things continue to benefit a [believing] person even after death – charity which he had given (which continues to benefit others), beneficial knowledge which he had left behind (i.e. authored or taught), and supplication on his behalf by a righteous child (Narrated by Saheeh Muslim).

Thus, there are very convincing reasons to believe in life after death:

1)  All the Prophets of God have called their people to believe in it.

2)  Whenever a human society is built on the basis of this belief, it has been the most ideal and peaceful society, free of social and moral evils.

3)  History bears witness that whenever this belief is rejected collectively by a group of people in spite of the repeated warning of the Prophet, the group as a whole has been punished by God even in this world.

4)  Moral, aesthetic and rational faculties of man endorse the possibility of the life after death.

5)  God’s attributes of Justice and Mercy have no meaning if there is no life after death.

Source:  WAMY


Story of Zam Zam water


Narrated Ibn Abbas:
 
The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque.
 
During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward.
 
Ishmael’s mother followed him saying, “O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not neglect us,” and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
 
‘O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.’ (14.37)
 
Ishmael’s mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty.
 
She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody.
 
Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times.”
 
The Prophet said, “This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, ‘O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?”
 
And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it.”
 
The Prophet added, “May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael’s mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.”
 
The Prophet further added, “Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.’
 
The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada’.
 
They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, ‘This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.’ They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water.
 
So, they all came (towards the water).” The Prophet added, “Ishmael’s mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, ‘Do you allow us to stay with you?” She replied, ‘Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed to that.” The Prophet further said, “Ishmael’s mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people.
 
So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.
 
After Ishmael’s mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael’s marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael’s wife about him, she replied, ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, ‘We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,’ complaining to him.
 
He said, ‘When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).’ When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, ‘Has anyone visited you?’ She replied, ‘Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.’
 
On that Ishmael said, ‘Did he advise you anything?’ She replied, ‘Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.’ Ishmael said, ‘It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.’ So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e. Jurhum).
 
Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael’s wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said, ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Abraham asked her, ‘How are you getting on?’ asking her about their sustenance and living.
 
She replied, ‘We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).’ Then she thanked Allah’ Abraham said, ‘What kind of food do you eat?’ She said. ‘Meat.’ He said, ‘What do you drink?’ She said, ‘Water.” He said, “O Allah! Bless their meat and water.”
 
The Prophet added, “At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it.” The Prophet added, “If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca.”
 
The Prophet added,” Then Abraham said Ishmael’s wife, “When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.’ When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife, ‘Did anyone call on you?’
 
She replied, ‘Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,’ so she praised him and added.’He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.’ Ishmael asked her, ‘Did he give you any piece of advice?’
 
She said, ‘Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.’ On that Ishmael said, ‘It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.’
 
Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished, and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near Zamzam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father).
 
Abraham said, ‘O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.’ Ishmael said, ‘Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.’ Abraham asked, ‘Will you help me?’ Ishmael said, ‘I will help you.’ Abraham said, Allah has ordered me to build a house here,’ pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it.”
 
The Prophet added, “Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka’ba). Ishmael brought the stones and Abraham was building, and when the walls became high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham who stood over it and carried on building, while Ishmael was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, ‘O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.’ The Prophet added, “Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka’ba saying: O our Lord ! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (2.127)
 
[Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583]

The Story of Prophet Job (Ayoub) (peace be upon him)


Ibn Ishaaq stated that he was a man of Rum. His name was Job (pbuh) Ibn Mose Ibn Razeh Ibn Esau Ibn Isaac Ibn Abraham. Someone else said he was Job (pbuh) Ibn Moses, Ibn Rimil Ibn Esau Ibn Isaac Ibn Jacob. There have also been other statements in his lineage. Ibn Asaker narrated that his mother was a daughter of Prophet Lot (pbuh) .It was said, also, that his father was one who believed in Abraham(pbuh)  when he was cast into the fire.

 

The first opinion is the most plausible as he was a descendant of Abraham(pbuh) ‘s offspring as Allah Almighty declared:

“And that was Our [conclusive] argument which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise by degrees whom We will. Indeed, your Lord is Wise and Knowing. And We gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – all [of them] We guided. And Noah, We guided before; and among his descendants, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward the doers of good.” Quran 6:83-84

 

Allah the Almighty praised His worshipper Job (pbuh) in His Glorious Quran:

“Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance to Us” Quran 38:44

Job (pbuh) was repentant, remembering Allah with thankfulness, patience and steadfastness. This was the cause of his rescue and the secret of Allah’s praising him.

 

A group of angels were discussing Allah’s other human creatures, how those who were humble earned Allah’s pleasure, while those who were arrogant incurred His displeasure. One of the angels remarked:

“The best creature on earth today is Job (pbuh), a man of noble character who displays excellent patience and always remembers his Generous Lord. He is an excellent model for the worshippers of Allah. In return, his Lord has blessed him with a long life and plenty of riches, yet he is never haughty or selfish. His family, his servants, as well as the needy and the poor share in his good fortune; he feeds and clothes the poor and buys slaves to set them free. He makes those who receive his charity feel as if they are favoring him, so kind and gentle is he.”

 

Iblis, overhearing all this, became annoyed. He planned to tempt Job (pbuh) to corruption and disbelief, so he hastened to him. He tried to distract Job (pbuh) from his prayers by whispering to him about the good things in life, but Job (pbuh) was a true believer and would not let evil thoughts tempt him. This disturbed Iblis more; thus he began to hate Job (pbuh) even more.

 

Iblis complained to Allah about Job (pbuh). He said that although he was continuously glorifying Allah, he was not doing so out of his sincerity but to satisfy Allah so that his wealth should not be taken away. It was all a show, all out of greed. “If You remove his wealth then You will find that his tongue will no longer mention Your name and his praying will stop.”

 

Allah told Iblis that Job (pbuh) was one of His most sincere devotees. He did not worship Him because of the favors; his worship stemmed from his heart and had nothing to do with material things. But to prove Iblis the depth of Job (pbuh)’s sincerity and patience, Allah allowed him to do whatever he and his helpers wished with Job (pbuh)’s wealth.

 

Iblis was very happy. He gathered his helpers and set about destroying Job (pbuh)’s cattle, servants, and farms until he was left with no possessions. Rubbing his hands in glee, Iblis appeared before Job (pbuh) in the guise of a wise old man and said to him:

“All your wealth is lost. Some people say that it is because you gave too much charity and that you are wasting your time with your continuous prayers to Allah. Others say that Allah has bought this upon you in order to please your enemies.

 

If Allah had the capacity to prevent harm, then He would have protected your wealth”

True to his belief, Job (pbuh) replied:

“What Allah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for a while. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills”

With these words, Job (pbuh) again prostrated to his Lord.

 

When Iblis saw this, he felt frustrated, so he again addressed Allah:

“I have stripped Job (pbuh) of all his possessions, but he still remains grateful to You. However, he is only hiding his disappointment, for he places great store by his many children. The real test of a parent is through him children. You will then see how Job (pbuh) will reject You”

 

Allah granted Iblis authority, but warned him that it would not reduce Job (pbuh)’s faith in his Lord nor his patience.

Iblis again gathered his helpers and set about his evil deeds. He shook the foundation of the house in which Job (pbuh)’s children were living and sent the building crashing, killing all of them. Then he went to Job (pbuh) disguised as a man who had come to sympathize with him.

 

In a comforting tone he said to Job (pbuh):

“The circumstances under which your children died were sad. Surely, your Lord is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers?”

Having said this Iblis waited anxiously, hoping Job (pbuh) was now ready to reject Allah. But again Job (pbuh) disapointed him by replying:

“Allah sometimes gives and sometimes takes. He is sometimes pleased and sometimes displeased with our deeds. Whether a thing is beneficial or harmful to me, I will remain firm in my belief and remain thankful to my Creator”

Then Job (pbuh) prostrated to his Lord. At this Iblis was extremely vexed. Iblis again called on Allah:

“O my Lord, Job (pbuh)’s wealth is gone, his children are dead, but he is still healthy in body, and as long as he enjoys good health he will continue to worship You in the hope of regaining his wealth and producing more  children. Grant me authority over his body so that I may weaken it. He will surely neglect worshipping You and with thus becomes disobedient”

 

Allah wanted to teach Iblis a lesson that Job (pbuh) was a devoted servant of his Lord, so He granted Iblis his third request but placed a condition:

“I give you authority over his body but not over his soul, intellect, or heart, for in these places reside the knowledge of Me and My religion”.

Armed with this new authority, Iblis began to take revenge on Job (pbuh)’s body and filled it with disease until it was reduced to mere skin and bone and he suffered severe pain. But through all the suffering Job (pbuh) remained strong in his faith, patiently bearing all the hardships without complaining.

 

Allah’s righteous servant did not despair or turn to others for help but remained hopeful of Allah’s Mercy. Even close relatives and friends deserted him. Only his kind loving wife stayed with him. In his hour of need, she showered her kindness on him and cared for him. She remained his sole companion and comforter through many years of his suffering.

 

Ibn Asaker narrated:

“Job (pbuh) was a man having much wealth of all kinds: beasts, slaves, sheep, vast lands of Haran and many children. All those favors were taken from him and he was physically afflicted as well. Never a single organ was sound except his heart and tongue, with both of which he glorified Allah, the Almighty all the time day and night. His disease lasted for a long time until his visitors felt disgusted with him. His friend kept away from him, and people abstained from visiting him.

 

No one felt sympathy for him except his wife. She took good care of him, knowing his former charity and pity for her”

Therefore, Iblis became desperate. He consulted his helpers but they could not advise him. They asked:

“How is it that your cleverness cannot work against Job (pbuh), yet you succeeded in misleading Adam, the father of man, out of paradise?”

 

Iblis went to Job (pbuh)’s wife in the form of a man. “Where is your husband?” he asked her.

She pointed to an almost lifeless form crumpled on the bed and said: “There he is, suspended between life and death.”

Iblis reminded her of the days when Job (pbuh) had good health, wealth and children. Suddenly, the painful memory of years of hardship overcame her, and she burst into tears. She said to Job (pbuh):

“How long are you going to bear this torture from our Lord? Are we to remain without wealth, children or friends forever? Why don’t you call upon Allah to remove this suffering?”

Job (pbuh) sighed, and in a soft voice replied:

“Iblis must have whispered to you and made you dissatisfied. Tell me, how long did I enjoy good health and riches?”

She replied, “For eighty years”

Then Job (pbuh) asked, “How long am I suffering like this?”

She said, “for seven years”

 

Then Job (pbuh) told her:

“In that case I am ashamed to call on my Lord to remove the hardship, for I have not suffered longer than the years of good health and plenty. It seems your faith has weakened and you are dissatisfied with the fate of Allah. If I ever regain health, I swear I will punish you with a hundred strokes! From this day onward, I forbid myself to eat or drink anything from your hand. Leave me alone and let my Lord do with me as He pleases.”

 

Crying bitterly and with a heavy heart, she had no choice but to leave him and seek shelter elsewhere. In his helpless state, Job (pbuh) turned to Allah, not to complain but to seek His mercy:

“And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, “Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful. So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah ].” 
Quran 21:83-84

 

Almighty Allah also instructed:

“Commemorate Our servant Job (pbuh) behold he cried to his Lord: “The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering”! (The command was given:) “Strike with thy foot: here is (water) wherein to wash cool and refreshing and (water) to drink.” And We gave him (back) his people and doubled their number as a Grace from Ourselves and a thing for commemoration for all who have Understanding.” Quran 38:41-43

 

Job (pbuh) obeyed, and almost immediately his good health was restored. Meanwhile, his faithful wife could no longer bear to be parted from her husband and returned to beg his forgiveness, desiring to serve him. On entering he house, she was amazed at the sudden change: Job (pbuh) was again healthy! She embraced him and thanked Allah for His mercy.

 

Job (pbuh) was now worried, for he had taken an oath to punish her with a hundred strokes if he regained health, but he had no desire to hurt her. He knew if he did not fulfill the oath, he would be guilty of breaking a promise to Allah. Therefore, in His wisdom and mercy, Allah came to the assistance of His faithful servant, and advised him:

 

“And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith (your wife), and break not your oath. Truly we found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance to Us” Quran 38:44

 

Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “While Job (pbuh) was naked, taking a bath, a swarm of locusts fell on him, and he started collecting them in his garment. His Lord called him: ‘O Job (pbuh)! Have I not made you too rich to need what you see?’ He said: ‘Yes, O Lord! But I cannot shun Your Blessings” (Bukhari).