The father of monotheism

Published December 5, 2008

NAMRUD ruled over

Babylon with absolute might and power, the pelf of which drove him to command people to worship him as their lord. His astrologer, however, predicted his downfall at the hands of a commoner from among his subjects, who would not only challenge his authority but also rise as a formidable tide against idolatry.

Thus ignorant of the ways of Allah, a frenzied Namrud embarked on an unnatural strategy of separating all men and women in his kingdom, to ensure that no such child was ever conceived. Azar`s wife retreated to the loneliness of the Babylonian hills and it was there that Abraham (Hazrat Ibrahim A.S.) was born in a cave. His sustenance descended from Allah and 13 years later he returned to the city and took apprenticeship with the master sculptor, his own father, Azar.

“They said, build him a furnace and throw him into the blazing fire!” (3997) Abraham was cast into the fire for defying idol worship, but the flames cooled by divine order. “We said O fire! Be then cool and means of safety for Abraham.” (2169) “This failing they then sought a stratagem against him.” (3998).

Interpreting the verse, (3997-98), Allama Yousuf Ali says, “The argument of Abraham was so strong that it could not be met with a counter-argument. In such cases evil resorts to violence and to plotting. Here there were both, violence consisted of throwing him into a blazing furnace. But by the mercy of Allah, the fire did not harm him so they resorted to plotting. But even the plotting was a boomerang that recoiled on their hands.”

Other than Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Hazrat Ibrahim is the only other prophet whose Sunnat is enjoined upon Muslims. This is indeed a unique honour. Not surprisingly then Hazrat Ibrahim is the father of the doctrine of monotheism and was mentioned to Hazrat Muhammad in the

early Makkan Sura Al-Nahl “Abraham was an exemplar, obedient to Allah, upright (Hanif).....” “Then we revealed to thee follow the faith (millat) of Abraham, the upright one (Hanif) and he was not of the polytheists.” (16120-123)

The legacy that Abraham left for his progeny was monotheism. His unflinching faith in Allah is mentioned in Surah Al-Baqr, verse 131 “Behold! His Lord said to him Bow, (thy will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the universe.” Hazrat Ibrahim made a moving supplication to Allah “O! My Lord bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous; grant me an honourable tongue of truth, among the latest generations.” (1983-84).

Haj, a pillar of Islam, is indeed the manifestation of the acceptance of Hazrat Ibrahim`s prayers. Haj and all its rites are a continuum of Abrahamic traditions. “And then we assigned to Abraham the place of the House, saying , do not set up aught with me, and purify My House for those who make the circuit, and who stand up to pray and who bow and prostrate themselves. And proclaim among men, the Haj...” (2226-27)

History suggests that the concept of Haj existed even before Abraham but the Haj in its true spirit evolved from the authority of Abraham. He was divinely ordained to rebuild the Kaaba and purge it of idols and institute Haj.

In Sura Al-Baqra, from Ayat 196 to 203, the various rites of Haj are described for the pilgrims to complete. The principal rites are (i) wearing of the ahram from certain fixed points on all roads leading to Makkah. As soon as the ahram is donned by a pilgrim, the prohibitive conditions come into force; (i) the pilgrim is committed to the worship of Allah and must refrain from all worldly attractions; (ii) circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba seven times, typifying activity by kissing the Hajr al-Aswad; (iii) a short prayer at the station of Hazrat Ibrahim (2215) and then running between Mounts Safa and Marwa (2158) remembering the patience and perseverance of Hazrat Hajra; (iv) listening to the great sermon of Haj. (v) visit to the valley of Mina and the hill of Arafat, where all pilgrims stand on their feet from noon to sunset and invoke blessings of the Almighty; (vi) on the 10th day of Zilhaj, Eid day, sacrifice of animals is performed in the valley of Mina.

The purpose of Haj is to attain spiritual loftiness. “...and make a provision with you for the journey. But the best of provisions is the right conduct....” (2197). Pilgrims are expected to be self-sufficient and not resort to begging or chasing after worldly riches while at Haj.

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