Friday, 26 September 2014
The Faith of Abraham II (a.s.)
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is taken from a transcript of discourse delivered by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed at his weekly dzikr session held at the Hermitage Masjid, on Thursday, 18th September 2014.
The personality and mission of Abraham (a.s.) has many dimensions and lessons for us. Throughout his life, he was very much interested in passing on the legacy of monotheism. However, throughout his travels he realised that he was not attracting the people as he would have hoped for and thus prayed to Allah for a righteous offspring to carry on his teachings. Today, we will look at one aspect of his personality which is his total and complete submission to Allah (s.w.t.).
Firstly, we need to understand that Abraham (a.s.), up to his teenage years, did not grow up with his parents. When he eventually went home to his parents, he was surprised to see them and his people worshipping idols. As a matter of fact, his father made and sold idols. So Abraham (a.s.) had a real problem that manifested in him having many disagreements and theological clashes with his father and his people.
Abraham (a.s.) used to ask his father, “O father, why do you worship that which doesn't hear, doesn't see, and cannot avail you in anything?” He could not understand the logic of submitting to something that was created and had no life; something that could not even drive a fly away. He implored his people to seek sustenance and guidance from the One True God.
We need to understand that Allah (s.w.t.) is The Sustainer. Everything comes from Him and whatever we want, we should beg of Him. He once Told Prophet Musa (a.s.), “O Musa, ask Me for everything, even the mending of your shoelaces.”
True submission and faith is not easy for a lot of people. Even amongst the believers; a lot of people say they have faith but do not really act upon it when they seek assistance from soothsayers, for example. Abraham (a.s.) tried to show the people in many ways that these creatures they worshipped cannot help them as they even do not have any power of their own. And when his verbal reasoning failed he tried another tactic.
A big celebration was planned where everybody in the village would attend for a big feast on the riverbank. After making sure that no one was around, Abraham (a.s.) went towards the temple armed with an axe and destroyed all the statues except one; the biggest of them all. He hung the axe around its neck and left.
How big was the shock when the people entered the temple! They gathered inside watching in awe their gods broken in pieces. They wondered who might have done this. Then they all remembered that the young Abraham (a.s.) preached against their idol worship. They brought him to the temple and asked him, “Are you the one who has done this to our gods?”
Abraham replied, “No, this statue, the biggest of them has done it.”
“You know well that these idols don't speak!” They said impatiently.
“Then how come you worship things that can neither speak nor see, nor even fend for themselves? Have you lost your minds?"
Their minds and their senses were telling them that the Truth is with Abraham (a.s.), but their pride prevented them to accept it, and reject the idols they were worshipping for generations. This they thought would be total defeat. They started yelling at him and shouting: “Burn him! Take revenge for our gods!”
When they decided to burn him, Abraham (a.s.) showed no resistance. Even when he was flung towards the massive fire, Jibril (a.s.) appeared to save him. When Jibril (a.s.) said that Allah did not Command him to save Abraham (a.s.); Abraham (a.s.) refused the angels help and instead relied solely on Allah (a.s.). He knew that Allah (a.s.) would Take Care of him and in the process was giving his people practical da’wah. Allah (s.w.t.) records this in Surah al-Anbiya’:
We Bestowed aforetime on Abraham his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him. Behold! He said to his father and his people, “What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?” They said, “We found our father worshipping them.” He said “Indeed ye have been in manifest error-ye and your fathers.” They said, “Have you brought us the Truth, or are you one of those who jest?” He said, “Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, He Who Created them (from nothing): and I am a witness to this (truth). And by Allah, I have a plan for your idols ― after ye go away and turn your backs.” So he broke them to pieces, (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it. They said, “Who has done this to our gods? He must indeed be some man of impiety!” They said, “We heard a youth talk of them: he is called ‘Abraham.’” They said, “Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may bear witness.” They said, “Art thou the one that did this with our gods, O Abraham?” He said, “Nay, this was done by this, their biggest one! Ask them, if they can speak intelligently!” So they turned to themselves and said, “Surely ye are the ones in the wrong!” Then were they confounded with shame: (they said). “Thou knowest full well that these (idols) do not speak!” (Abraham) said, “Do ye then worship, besides Allah, things that can neither be of any good to you nor do you harm? Fie upon you and upon the things that ye worship besides Allah! Have ye no sense?” They said, “Burn him and protect your gods if ye do (anything at all)!” We Said, “O Fire! Be thou cool, and (a means of)) safety for Abraham!” Then they sought a stratagem against him: but We Made them the ones that lost most! (Surah al-Anbiya’:51-70)
Allah (s.w.t.) Helps His servants from sources we can never imagine. Abraham (a.s.) understood that he was at all times living in the Presence of Allah (s.w.t.) and this was later passed on to us. This is why, when before we pray we recite:
“For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, toward Him Who Created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” (Surah al-An’am:79)
People say we pray to the Ka’bah but Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “When you stand for swalah facing the qiblah, understand that Allah is before you, and is between you and the Ka’bah.”
We need to understand that we do not own anything. Everything is from The Creator. All He has Given is will power; power to channel His Blessings on us in a direction of our chose. Humans are Blessed with a little bit of freedom with the knowledge that we will be Taken to Judgement one day. We must submit to Allah (s.w.t.) and let Him Take Care of everything else. The entire life of Abraham (a.s.) contains instances and actions where he demonstrated immaculate faith in Allah (s.w.t.); from the story we recapped above up until his mature life. We too should strive to build our reliance and faith in Allah (s.w.t.).
It is something easy to profess but when the trials and test come your way, only then can we really test our faith. Faith in Allah (s.w.t.) is something we cannot rationalise. We must culture ourselves to always trust and rely on our Lord and know that He will never let us down; just as He Took Care of Abraham (a.s.) in the most trying of times. May Allah (s.w.t.) Bless us all to develop faith and trust in Him, similar to the faith shown by His friend, Abraham (a.s.) and all His other messengers, insha’Allah.