The idol sculptor
Once upon a time, long, long ago, , there lived a well-known man, a public figure, called Azar, who earned his living by sculpting idols. In Azar’s village was a huge temple, teeming with the stone structures. The villagers, like Azar, adored the idols, prostrating to them and worshipping them.
Azar had a son, a good lad who he name Ibrahim. Ibrahim used to see everyone, including his father, prostrating to and worshipping the idols. Ibrahim knew that the idols were nothing more that deaf and dumb rocks. He knew that the idols were impotent, and could do nothing to hurt him and couldn’t help him in any way. He saw how powerless the idols were, unable to stop flies sitting on their offerings and unable to stop mice sneaking off with their food. Naturally, it bemused Ibrahim to see his fellow villagers humbling themselves before these sculpted rocks and begging them for all and sundry.
Ibrahim’s advice to his villagers
Ibrahim would repeatedly tell his father: “Dad, why do you go about prostrating to this idols, worshipping them and begging them for your needs? These idols are dumb, deaf, harmless and powerless. I find it astonishing that you offer them food and liquids, especially when they can’t eat and drink.”
Ibrahim’s comments would leave Azar fuming, but Azar stubbornly refused to change. His fellow villagers were the same. Eventually, Ibrahim vowed to smash up the idols when no one was around, in an effort to force a change.
Ibrahim smashes up the idols
When a day for festivities arrived, and everyone was delighted, Ibrahim saw his chance. Both young and old set off to celebrate, and as Ibrahim’s father left, he asked his son, “Aren’t you coming with us?” “I’m not feeling well,” Ibrahim remarked. And so, everyone went off to party, except Ibrahim, who stayed by himself in the village.
Ibrahim went to the temple and approached the idols. “Speak to me!” he cried. “Listen to me! Look, here’s some food and drink. Won’t you have a bite or take a sip?” Unsurprisingly, the idols remained dead quiet, because they were nothing but dumb stones. Ibrahim asked them, “What’s wrong? Lost your tongue?” Again, there was a stony silence in the room, as the idols remained stumped. Ibrahim lost his temper. He grabbed an axe, and began swinging it about wildly, breaking every single idol in the building except one – he spared one – the biggest of them all. He hung the axe around the neck of the chief idol.
Who did it?
Everyone returned from the party and went straight to the temple, to prostrate to the idols. It was a day for festivities, after all. But instead of prostrating, they were left shocked and stumped, lamenting and angry.
“Who did this to our gods?” they demanded. Some people said, “There’s a boy, Ibrahim, who’s been speaking out against them.” Ibrahim was brought in front of the leaders, and asked, “Did you do this to our gods, Ibrahim?” “Of course not,” replied Ibrahim. “It was him, the big one, this one here. Ask these little ones. If they can talk, they’ll tell you.”
The villagers knew full well that the idols were just blocks of deaf and dumb stones, and they knew that the chief idol was no different. It couldn’t move, never mind walk, and could not have smashed the other idols. So the villagers turned to Ibrahim and told him, “You know that idols can’t speak.”
“Then why do you worship them?” retorted Ibrahim. “It’s not like they can hurt you or harm you, is it? And you ask them for your needs! They can’t even talk to you or hear you! Don’t you get it? Use your brains!
There was silence all around. Everyone hung their heads in shame.
The fire that didn’t burn
The villagers held a meeting. “What shall we do?” They asked. “Ibrahim has obviously smashed up our gods, and humiliated them. How should we punish him? What are the consequences of his actions?”
The leaders unanimously agreed: “Burn him! Support your gods!” And so it came to pass, for they kindled a monstrous fire and flung Ibrahim into it. But Allah had other ideas. He helped Ibrahim by commanding the fire: “Fire! Be nice and cool for Ibrahim.” And so it came to pass, for the fire became nice and cool for Ibrahim and, and everyone witnessed the fire unable to harm Ibrahim. They saw Ibrahim emerge smiling, safe and sound. Naturally, everyone was very shocked and extremely confused.
Who is my Lord?
One night, Ibrahim looked up at the stars. “Are these my Lord?” he asked himself. But when the stars dimmed, Ibrahim reflected, “No! These are not my Lord.”
Then he looked up at the moon: “Is this my lord?” he thought. But when the moon disappeared out of sight, he thought to himself, “No! This is not my Lord.”
Then the sun peeked out its head. “This is my lord!” Cried Ibrahim, “It’s the biggest.” But when the sun disappeared at night, Ibrahim decided, “No, this is not my Lord.
“Allah is living, he doesn’t die. He is ever-present, he doesn’t disappear. He is the most powerful, nothing can put him out.”
“The stars are weak, the dawn dims them. The moon is feeble, the Sun outshines it. The Sun is weak, it vanishes at night, and becomes concealed behind clouds. The stars, the sun and the moon are powerless to help me. Only Allah can help me, because Allah is living, he doesn’t die. He is ever-present, he doesn’t disappear. He is the most powerful, nothing can put him out.”
My Lord is Allah
Ibrahim realised that Allah was his lord, because Allah is living, ever-present and Powerful. He realised that Allah was Lord of the stars, sun and moon. In fact, he realised that Allah was Lord of everything. Allah guided Ibrahim by blessing him with prophethood and making him his favoured one. Ibrahim was told to call his people to Allah, and to stop them from worshipping idols.
Ibrahim called his people to Allah, and worked to prevent them worshipping idols. “What are you worshipping?” he asked. “We’re worshipping idols!” they replied. Ibrahim asked, “Do they hear your prayers? Can they hurt or help you?” “No,” they replied, “but we know that our ancestors used to do this.” Ibrahim told them: “I refuse to worship these idols, and these idols are my enemy. I worship the Lord of Everything, who created me and guided me, who feeds me and gives me drink, who cures me when I’m ill, and who will one day take away my life, then revive me once again.” “These idols create nothing, give no guidance, can’t provide food and drink, are unable to cure a sick person, and can neither take life nor give it.”
The confrontation with the King
Ibrahim’s area was ruled by a powerful, tyrant king, who made everyone prostrate to him. When he learned that Ibrahim prostrated to Allah, and no one else, he was livid, and sought out Ibrahim. Ibrahim came, undaunted, fearing no one. Only Allah.
“Who’s your God?” the king demanded to know.
“Allah,” replied Ibrahim.
“Allah gives life and takes it.”
“I give and take life too,” quipped the king. He then called out for a man and killed him, then called out for another and let him live. “See,” said the king, “I control life and death too. I just killed a man and let another live.”
The king, like all polytheists, was incredibly foolish. Ibrahim decided to teach both the king and his men a lesson, so he said, “Allah makes the sun come out from the East. You make it come out from the West.” The king was stumped into silence. Ibrahim made him look a fool, as he struggled and failed to come up with a response.
The call to his father
Ibrahim wanted to call his father to Allah as well, so he told him, “My dear father! Why do you worship something so deaf and blind, that can’t hurt or help you? My dear father! Please don’t worship Satan. My dear father! Worship the Merciful One.”
Ibrahim’s father began boiling with rage. “I will beat you,” he shouted, “So go away. Leave me. Don’t talk to me.”
Ibrahim composed himself, and told his father, “Goodbye! May you find peace. I am leaving here, and will be turning to my Lord.” Distraught at his father’s reaction, Ibrahim decided it was best to go to another city, to worship his Lord, and to call others to the worship of Allah.
The journey to Mecca
Everyone was fed up with Ibrahim. The whole village, the local king and even Ibrahim’s own father were angry at him, so Ibrahim decided to migrate to another city where he could both worship and call people to Allah. After bidding goodbye to his father, Ibrahim left and headed towards Mecca. He took his wife with him.
Mecca was an arid land, with no trees, wells or streams in sight. No animals roamed around in the area, nor did any people live there. It was here that Ibrahim stopped his journey. Leaving behind his wife, Haajar, and his son, Ismail, Ibrahim turned to leave. His wife quickly called out, “Sire, where are you going?” Are you going to leave us here, in this barren land, where no plants grow and no water runs…? Has Allah told you to do this?”
Ibrahim replied with a simple, “Yes.”
“In that case,” Haajar remarked, “he won’t let us die.”
The Zamzam Well
Soon, Baby Ismail became thirsty. His mother wanted to give him water to drink, but where was she going to find water? Mecca had no wells and no streams at all. Haajar panicked and began searching for water. She walked up and down Mounts Safa and Marwa in search of water.
Then Allah decided to help Haajar and Ismail by creating water for them. Water spouted out of the ground and both Haajar and Ismail drank to their fill. The water was later turned into a well and became known as the Zamzam well. Allah blessed the Zamzam well, and it is this well that people drink from when they go for Hajj. They even bring Zamzam water back to their own countries. Have you ever drunk Zamzam water?
Sometime later, Ibrahim returned to Mecca, where he met up with Ismail and Haajar. Ibrahim was delighted with his son, who was now an infant; Ismail was now walking and playing, and went everywhere with his father, who loved him dearly.
One night, Ibrahim dreamt he was sacrificing Ismail for God. Since Ibrahim was a prophet, his dreams were a revelation, a message from Allah. Therefore, Ibrahim, being the favoured one, understood he must do what the dream was telling him.
Ibrahim discussed the dream with his son: “I’ve had a dream in which I saw myself sacrificing you. Tell me, what do you think about it?”
“Father,” replied Ismail, “Do what you have been commanded. With God’s help, you will see that I remain calm.”
Ibrahim then left with his son, carrying a large knife. He decided to sacrifice his son at Mina. Laying Ismail on the ground, he prepared to sacrifice Ismail. He pressed the knife against Ismail’s neck, but then the angel Jibreel appeared with a ram from Heaven, and told Ibrahim to sacrifice the ram instead. Ibrahim realised that it had all been a test from Allah, and he had passed the test! All Allah had wanted to do was to put Ibrahim through a test and see if he loved Allah more, or his son more.
Allah was so pleased with Ibrahim’s attempted sacrifice that he decided to immortalise the event. He therefore ordered us Muslims to sacrifice an animal on Eid-ul-Adha day.
May Ibrahim be blessed by Allah.
May Ismail be blessed by Allah.
Ibrahim left, only to return some years later, with the aim of making a building that he could dedicate to the worship of Allah. A number of houses had rapidly been built in Mecca, but there was no mosque to worship Allah. Ibrahim decided to build such a house with the help of his son. The two transferred large rocks from the surrounding mountains to the building site, then began building with their own hands. As they worked, they praised Allah and prayed to him, saying, “Our Lord! Accept our work. You hear everything and know everything.”
Allah accepted this deed of theirs, blessing the Kaaba so that nowadays, we turn towards the Kaaba when we pray, we travel to the Kaaba during the days of Hajj, and we circle around and perform our prayers close to it. In short, Allah blessed the Kaaba, and accepted their efforts.
God bless Ibrahim! God bless Ismail! God bless Muhammad!
Ibrahim had a second wife, Sarah by name, and another son too, called Ishaaq. Ibrahim and Ishaaq settled in Ancient Syria (modern day Palestine), and here, Ishaaq, like his dad and half-brother, made a building that he dedicated to the worship of Allah. This building is called the Baytul-maqdis, and is the same as the Masjidul Aqsa mentioned in the Quran. Allah has blessed both Masjidul Aqsa and its surrounding area.
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