Lessons from the Life of Prophet Ibrahim AS (Part 2)

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This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Lecture at Darul Makmur Mosque on 12th January 2020. It is a continuation of the verses of Surah Maryam. Summaries of the previous lectures on Surah Maryam containing lessons from the lives of Prophet Yahya, Sayidatina Maryam and Prophet Isa AS can be found here.

Verses Explained

قَالَ أَرَاغِبٌ أَنتَ عَنْ آلِهَتِي يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ ۖ لَئِن لَّمْ تَنتَهِ لَأَرْجُمَنَّكَ ۖ وَاهْجُرْنِي مَلِيًّا

He (the father) said: “Do you reject my gods, O Ibrahim? If you stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you.” [19:46]

قَالَ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكَ ۖ سَأَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكَ رَبِّي ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِي حَفِيًّا

Ibrahim said: “Peace be on you! I will ask Forgiveness of my Lord for you. Verily! He is unto me, Ever Most Gracious. [19:47]

وَأَعْتَزِلُكُمْ وَمَا تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَأَدْعُو رَبِّي عَسَىٰ أَلَّا أَكُونَ بِدُعَاءِ رَبِّي شَقِيًّا

And I will withdraw from you and what you call on besides Allah, and I will call upon my Lord; may be I shall not remain unblessed in calling upon my Lord.” [19:48]

On “Giving up” when Doing Da’wah

In the previous lecture, we covered these verses in which Prophet Ibrahim AS was mentioned to have left his father. The question was raised on whether it is possible for a prophet of Allah to give up on his da’wah (calling others to Islam) or even for a son to abandon his father.

As Muslims, we must be firm in our faith. We believe that prophets have been selected by Allah because of their impeccable character and pure heart. As such, we know that whatever decision that was made by Prophet Ibrahim AS was not one made in haste.

Prophet Ibrahim’s story shows us that in doing da’wah, you need to put in effort and communicate using respectful and polite speech. However, if your good actions and intentions are reciprocated with harm, there are certain difficult decisions you have to make. As we can see in verse 46, not only had Prophet Ibrahim’s father openly disbelieved repeatedly, he had also threatened to hurt Prophet Ibrahim and then kicked him out of the house. Prophet Ibrahim AS did not leave out of his own initiative.

Also, it is important to note that it was not mentioned for how long Prophet Ibrahim had been calling his father to Allah’s worship. What is evident is that he had been persisting for a long period of time.

Prophet Muhammad SAW in the history has also been known to show excellent character. We know in the Seerah of the War of Uhud, where en route to the battle grounds, some hypocrites had decided to abandon the troops and convince others to abandon as well. The Prophet SAW was firm in his decision not to execute them, saying that he did not want it to be made known that the Messenger of Allah slaughters his own companions. This was in spite of their open treason and clear stand as hypocrites rather than Muslims. This was how Prophet Muhammad SAW did da’wah, with wisdom, firmness and gentleness.

As a da’i (someone who does da’wah), there has to be an evaluation and assessment of when to keep going with your da’wah and when to stop and leave. There are some people who will not listen regardless of how much you try. Prophet Ibrahim AS made his decision based on his circumstances. Leaving would have been the best way forward for him, and staying put and persisting would have caused more harm than benefit to him.

On Making Supplication

We can also learn from the adab of Prophet Ibrahim AS when making du’a. If we use logical reasoning, the obvious word choice to contrast with “Your idols cannot even benefit you” would have been to say that “My Lord, reversely, will definitely answer all of my prayers”. However, rather than guaranteeing that Allah responds to all prayers, he says that Allah is guaranteed to be listening, guaranteed to be most generous, and it is hoped that his prayers will be answered.

Prophet Ibrahim AS, a Messenger of Allah, had made du’a for his own father. Yet, his father still died in disbelief. Take this as a lesson that Allah SWT is the One who has full authority to decide which supplications He answers, and which He does not. Know that there is no need to be disappointed when your prayers are not answered. As you can see from the following verses, whenever Allah denies you of something, He replaces it with something better.

فَلَمَّا اعْتَزَلَهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَكُلًّا جَعَلْنَا نَبِيًّا

So when he withdrew from them and what they worshipped besides Allah, We gave to him Ishaq and Yaqoub, and each one of them We made a prophet. [19:49]

Allah did not answer Prophet’s Ibrahim supplication by granting his father Islam. Instead, Allah granted Prophet Ibrahim sons and descendants who were not only true believers, but noble Prophets such as Prophet Ishaq and Ya’qub AS.

On Loss and Gain

When we make supplication asking Allah for something that is dear to us, we of course really want and hope to get what we ask for. However, it is important for us to detach ourselves from the outcome of the du’as. What is beloved to us may not be what is best for us.

Let’s look at the example of our wealth. When we give charity, we may see think that we are losing money. On the contrary, we are promised by Allah that those who give charity will never find their wealth decrease.

We hear of stories of people who are ill and bed-ridden, needy, with no income of their own. Their only source of income comes from their children. And yet, they give more charity than any of us, people who have incomes of our own. Even their children tell them off for spending their money in gifts and charity for others. We need to learn from these people. Give freely of what you have even if you do not own much. Give gifts to one another and in return, Allah will replace what you have “lost” with something more valuable to you, as mentioned in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet SAW said:

تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏

“Give gifts and you will love one another.”

When you lose things or people that are dear to you, do not grieve. Know that Allah will replace what you have lost with something better. Losing people who are close to you hurts, but know that you will reunite with them in the hereafter- in a better place. Do not waste the opportunity to reap Allah’s rewards by blaming Allah for the trials that He has given you. Do not let your grief lead you to distancing yourself from Allah, decreasing in worship or wallowing in self-pity and despair. Instead, use this loss as a means for you to earn the pleasure of Allah and reap His Rewards for your patience and strength in times of difficulty.

I’m not saying that you should not grieve. No, far from that! Even the Messenger of Allah SAW shed tears at the loss of his son, Ibrahim. He felt pain and grief and sadness too. However, know your limits even in times of grief and do not go into excessiveness in moaning, throwing tantrums or blaming Allah.

On the Mercy of Allah

وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُم مِّن رَّحْمَتِنَا

And We granted to them of Our mercy, [19:50]

The phrase “Min Rahmatinaa” can be translated to ‘from Our Mercy’, implying that Allah gave not all, but only a portion of His Mercy to the prophets. One might ask, why does Allah only give a bit of His Mercy, why does He not give more? Well, the answer is that even a small sliver of Mercy receive from Allah, is equivalent to so much more than we need.

Let me demonstrate this concept with a metaphor. Imagine what happens, if I bring a bucket to the sea and scoop up some seawater. What proportion of the sea can I take up? Not very much; the volume which I manage to hold is insignificant when compared to the volume of water that the vast oceans hold! In fact, there will be no noticeable reduction in the volume of water in the vast sea. However, if I were to take that limited amount of seawater in the pail and attempt to pour it into a cup. Would the cup be able to hold the water? No!

This is what Allah’s Mercy is like to us. His Mercy is vast and limitless. We only receive a tiny portion of it. Yet, this tiny portion, is significant and enormous in its’ impact to us, as His humble and limited slaves. Allah’s love, mercy and compassion to us is uncountable! This has already been promised to us in Surah An-Nahl, Verse 18:

وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

And if you would count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

On Truthful and Exalted Tongues

Now on to the second part of the verse,

وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ عَلِيًّا

and We left (behind them) a truthful mention of eminence for them. [19:50]

There are two interpretations of “Lisaanan Sidqin”.

The first, is that it can be translated as “truthful tongues”. This implies that the prophets only spoke honest, truthful and noble words. Some scholars discuss that this was granted as a response to the gentleness and grace of Prophet Ibrahim AS’ speech to Allah.

The second interpretation of the phrase is “a good mention”. These prophets were made “the talk of the town”, but people only spoke good of them. Even today, generations after the deaths of Prophets Ibrahim, Ishaq and Ya’acob, we still speak good of them. The Jews and the Christians also honour them and speak good of them. This was a reward given to Prophet Ibrahim AS for his noble work.

“High” in this case doesn’t imply height, rather it refers to their high status and honour in Allah’s eyes.

Concluding words

Allah acknowledges the difficulty that Prophet Ibrahim AS had to go through in having to leave his father. Allah SWT replaced what was lost (i.e. a disbelieving father) with something significantly better (i.e. descendants who were honoured by Allah and by the people).

Whenever you come across a loss or a failure, remember this story of Prophet Ibrahim AS and accept it with grace. Have the firm conviction that whatever you have lost will be replaced with something better.

Remember the Hadith Qudsi in which Allah SWT Says:

أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي

I am as My servant thinks I am

We learn from this hadith that Allah Gives to us based on what we expect of Him. If you think that Allah will give you hardships because He is cruel, stingy and out to get you, you will find your life becoming increasingly more difficult and restricted. However, if you stand for the possibility of Allah rewarding you with only goodness, you will see only goodness come from whatever trials and tribulations you encounter.

Let me teach you a du’a, based on a hadith, that you can make often to seek Allah’s Light:

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ لِي فِي قَلْبِي نُورًا وَفِي لِسَانِي نُورًا وَفِي سَمْعِي نُورًا وَفِي بَصَرِي نُورًا وَمِنْ فَوْقِي نُورًا وَمِنْ تَحْتِي نُورًا وَعَنْ يَمِينِي نُورًا وَعَنْ شِمَالِي نُورًا وَمِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَىَّ نُورًا وَمِنْ خَلْفِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ فِي نَفْسِي نُورًا وَأَعْظِمْ لِي نُورًا

Oh Allah, Place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light above me, light below me, light on my right, light on my left, light in front of me, light behind me, place light in my soul, and make light abundant for me.

What does this du’a mean? If we take it literally, it means that we are asking Allah SWT for guidance and clarity within ourselves and from all directions, such that we are saved from ignorance and heedlessness. However, if we look deeper at what is implied, we can see that each direction signifies something.

Our past lies behind us and our future in front of us. In looking to tackle our pasts and futures, we need Allah’s light to guide us. We seek Allah’s light to guide us to let go of and leave the darkness of the past, so that the sins of the past do not continue to weigh us down or persist as sins of the present. At the same time, we ask Him to give us clarity in navigating the future and all that is unseen and uncertain in it, including our deaths and our hereafter.

When talking about our “right”, we remember that there are people around us who are calling us towards goodness and worship of Allah. We ask Allah to guide us with His Light to the companionship of good people who will love, support, uplift and work with us in the path of Allah, striving for His pleasure together.

At the same time, we are aware of people on our “left”, who call us towards evil, wanting to distance us from Allah and lead us towards sin and heedlessness. We ask for Allah’s protection and distance from these people, who want to harm us, who have hatred towards us and who want to see us fall. We pray that we may not fall because of our weaknesses by giving in to these people.

When we ask for light from “above”, we are asking from the world of Allah and the angels. We ask that Allah opens His doors of Mercy, Guidance and Sustenance for us.

Beneath us is the earth we step on, where we will be buried after our deaths, where we are transiting on our way to the hereafter. When we ask for light from “below” us, we are asking for protection from being slaves to this world. We are asking that when we someday find ourselves beneath the ground, that we find ourselves surrounded by light not darkness in our graves.

Make this du’a often. May Allah grant us all light from all directions and keep us under His Loving Guidance, Mercy and Protection always. Ameen.

 

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Summary by: Arina Adom

Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables me to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.

Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS and is currently a Research Assistant at Evolutionary Biology Lab ( NUS ). She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.

Arina Adom – Linkedin Profile


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