Prophet Ibrahim AS: The early years

This article is a collection of Islamic material regarding the early years of Prophet Abraham AS.

To download the Quranic verses please click here.

6|74|Abraham said to his father Azar, “Do you take idols for gods? I see that you and your people are in evident error.”
6|75|Thus We showed Abraham the empire of the heavens and the earth, that he might be one of those with certainty.
6|76|When the night fell over him, he saw a planet. He said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “I do not love those that set.”
6|77|Then, when he saw the moon rising, he said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “If my Lord does not guide me, I will be one of the erring people.”
6|78|Then, when he saw the sun rising, he said, “This is my lord, this is bigger.” But when it set, he said, “O my people, I am innocent of your idolatry.
 6|79|I have directed my attention towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth—a monotheist—and I am not of the idolaters.”
6|80|And his people argued with him. He said, “Do you argue with me about God, when He has guided me? I do not fear what you associate with Him, unless my Lord wills it. My Lord comprehends all things in knowledge. Will you not reconsider?
6|81|And why should I fear those you associate with Him, and you do not fear associating others with God for which He sent down to you no authority? Which side is more entitled to security, if you are aware?”
6|82|Those who believe, and do not obscure their faith with wrongdoing—those will have security, and they are guided.
6|83|That was Our argument which We gave to Abraham against his people. We elevate by degrees whomever We will. Your Lord is Wise and Informed.
2|260|And when Abraham said, “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead.” He said, “Have you not believed?” He said, “Yes, but to put my heart at ease.” He said, “Take four birds, and incline them to yourself, then place a part on each hill, then call to them; and they will come rushing to you. And know that God is Powerful and Wise.”

H 2866, CH 165, h 1
Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from Yunus from al Husayn ibn Hakam who has said the following: “Once I wrote to the virtuous servant (of Allah) saying that I had doubt and Ibrahim, peace be upon him, had said, ‘Lord, show me how you will bring the dead to life?’ (2: 260) and I would love that you show me something. The Imam wrote back to me, ‘Ibrahim was a believer. He wanted to increase his belief. You, however, have doubt and there is nothing good in doubt.’ The Imam further wrote, ‘Doubt comes when there is no certainty when certainty, comes then doubting is not permissible.’ He wrote further, ‘Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy, has said, “We did not find many among them keeping their promises. However, We did find many evil-doers among them.” (7:102) The Imam said, ‘It was revealed about people who doubt.’”

19|41|And mention in the Scripture Abraham. He was a man of truth, a prophet.
19|42|He said to his father, “O my father, why do you worship what can neither hear, nor see, nor benefit you in any way?
19|43|O my father, there has come to me knowledge that never came to you. So follow me, and I will guide you along a straight way.
19|44|O my father, do not worship the devil. The devil is disobedient to the Most Gracious.
19|45|O my father, I fear that a punishment from the Most Gracious will afflict you, and you become an ally of the devil.”
19|46|He said, “Are you renouncing my gods, O Abraham? If you do not desist, I will stone you. So leave me alone for a while.”
19|47|He said, “Peace be upon you. I will ask my Lord to forgive you; He has been Kind to me.
19|48|And I will withdraw from you, and from what you pray to instead of God. And I will pray to my Lord, and I hope I will not be disappointed in my prayer to my Lord.”

H 3093, CH 10, h 6 A number of our people have narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad from Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Ash’ari from ibn al-Qaddah from abu ‘Abd Allah, recipient of divine supreme covenant, who has said the following: “The Messenger of Allah has said, ‘May Allah grant favors upon a servant who requests help from Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy, and insists on praying and pleading before Him for help, accepted or not. He then read this verse of the Holy Quran: “. . . I worship my Lord and hope that my prayers will not be ignored.’” (19:48)

2|258|Have you not considered him who argued with Abraham about his Lord, because God had given him sovereignty? Abraham said, “My Lord is He who gives life and causes death.” He said, “I give life and cause death.” Abraham said, “God brings the sun from the East, so bring it from the West,” so the blasphemer was confounded. God does not guide the wrongdoing people.
21|51|We gave Abraham his integrity formerly, and We knew him well.
21|52|When he said to his father and his people, “What are these statues to which you are devoted?”
21|53|They said, “We found our parents worshiping them.”
21|54|He said, “You and your parents are in evident error.”
21|55|They said, “Are you telling us the truth, or are you just playing?”
21|56|He said, “Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the One who created them, and I bear witness to that.
21|57|“By God, I will have a plan for your statues after you have gone away.”
21|58|So he reduced them into pieces, except for their biggest, that they may return to it.
21|59|They said, “Who did this to our gods? He is certainly one of the wrongdoers.”
21|60|They said, “We heard a youth mentioning them. He is called Abraham.”
21|61|They said, “Bring him before the eyes of the people, so that they may witness.”
21|62|They said, “Are you the one who did this to our gods, O Abraham?”
21|63|He said, “But it was this biggest of them that did it. Ask them, if they can speak.”

H 2685, CH 135, h 17
Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn
abu Nasr from Hammad ibn ‘Uthman from al-Hassan al-Sayqal who has said the
“Once I said to abu ‘Abd Allah, recipient of divine supreme
covenant, ‘We narrate it from abu Ja’far, recipient of divine
supreme covenant, about the words of Yusuf, “O people of the
camels, you are thieves.” (12:70) The Imam said, ‘By Allah,
they did not steal and he did not lie.’
“The narrator has said that he then said, Ibrahim said, ‘In fact, it
is the large one among them who has done it. Ask them if they
can speak.’ (21:63) The Imam said, ‘By Allah, they did not do it
and he did not lie.’ The narrator has said that abu ‘Abd Allah,
recipient of divine supreme covenant, then asked, ‘What
explanation do you have, O al-Sayqal?’ I (the narrator) then said,
‘We have no explanation, but accept it as is.’ The narrator has
said that the Imam then said, ‘Allah loves two things and hates
two things: He loves shows of arrogance between two fighting
armies and loves lies to establish peace. He hates shows of
arrogance on the roads and lies in the matters other than
establishing reform. Ibrahim (Abraham) said, ‘It is the large one
who has done it,’ with the intention to bring about social reform
to prove that the idols cannot do such things. Yusuf (Joseph)
said what he said and it was for social well-being.’”

 21|64|Then they turned to one another, and said, “You yourselves are the wrongdoers.”

21|65|But they reverted to their old ideas: “You certainly know that these do not speak.”
21|66|He said, “Do you worship, instead of God, what can neither benefit you in anything, nor harm you?
21|67|Fie on you, and on what you worship instead of God. Do you not understand?”
21|68|They said, “Burn him and support your gods, if you are going to act.”
21|69|We said, “O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham.”

H 1331, Ch. 124, h 13 Ishaq has said that al-Hassan ibn al-Zarif narrated to me the following: “Two issues would nudged in my chest which made me write to abu Muhammad, recipient of divine supreme covenant. I wrote about al-Qa’im (the one who will rise with Divine Authority and power). ‘When he will rise, by what means will he judge among the people and where will be his court house?’ I also wanted to ask him about alternating fever but I had forgotten to mention it in writing. The answer came. ‘You had asked about al-Qa’im. When he will rise he will judge among people through his own knowledge just the way David would judge. He will not call any witness to testify. You also wanted to ask about alternating fever but you forgot to do so. Write this on a sheet (of material), ‘We said to the fire, be cool and peaceful (with Abraham).’ (21:69) The narrator has said that we did just as he had said and the suffering person was relieved.’” 

37|101|So We gave him good news of a clement boy.

37|102|Then, when he was old enough to accompany him, he said, “O My son, I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you; see what you think.” He said, “O my Father, do as you are commanded; you will find me, God willing, one of the steadfast.”
37|103|Then, when they had submitted, and he put his forehead down.
37|104|We called out to him, “O Abraham!
37|105|You have fulfilled the vision.” Thus We reward the doers of good.
37|106|This was certainly an evident test.
37|107|And We redeemed him with a great sacrifice.
37|108|And We left with him for later generations.
37|109|Peace be upon Abraham.
37|110|Thus We reward the doers of good.
37|111|He was one of Our believing servants.
37|112|And We gave him good news of Isaac, a prophet, one of the righteous.
37|113|And We blessed him, and Isaac. But among their descendants are some who are righteous, and some who are clearly unjust to themselves.

Were Prophet Ibrahem AS and Lady Sara brother and sister?

It has not stated in the main authentic Shia sources that Abraham (AS) and Sara were brother and sister to each other. Indeed, it has been reported in some Sunni sources and then in some Shia books that when Nimrud threw Abraham into the fire due to the latter breaking and insulting the idols, Almighty Allah made the fire cold, safe and secure for the prophet enabling him to come out of the fire unhurt.[1] Nimrud was struck with fear seeing this incident. That was why he confiscated his property and ordered him to be banished from the land under his rule.  Prophet Abraham then said: “Return to me my property and I will leave your land.”
Nimrud opposed him and Nimrud’s judge said: “If this main remains in this land, he will destroy your religion; it is therefore better that you give him back his property and let him leave the land.”
Nimrud ordered that Abraham’s properties and belongings be returned to him.  There and then Abraham put his wife, Sara, who was the daughter of his mother’s sister into a box to protect her against the gaze of Nimrud’s followers. Then he and Lot who was the son of his mother’s sister left the land under Nimrud’s rule. When he was leaving Nimrud’s land, he came across Nimrud’s men who each took one tenth of their properties until one of them walked over to the box and said: “Open that case, so we can see what is in there.”
Abraham said: Whatever you think is in the box I will give you one tenth of it but do not open it; the custom’s officer and Numrid’s agent did not accept and Abraham was forced to open the box. When he saw Sara’s beautiful face, he was amazed and then he inquired: “Who is this woman with you?”
Abraham (AS) dissimulated (did tawriyah) and said: “She is my sister.” He meant his sister in faith, not his real sister.[2] The reason he dissimulated was to protect Sara; because if he had said that she was his wife, they would kill her.[3]
Therefore, Prophet Abraham and Sara were not real brother and sister so we cannot conclude that incestuous marriages (i.e. marriage of a man to his sister, niece and aunt) were allowed in other religions or at least until the time of Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him. It has been said only in regards to Adam’s children, based on a report, that since incestuous marriage was not prohibited in the time of Prophet Adam and there was no way for the man’s offspring to survive, therefore Cain and Abel married their twin sisters. It was after these marriages that God forbade marriage of a man to his sister

[1] Al-Anbiya, 69.
[2] Qummi, Ali bin Ibraim, Tafsir al-Qummi, researcher, Musavi, Jazaeri, Tayyib, vol.1, p. 332 – 333, Qom, Dar al-Kitab, third edition, 1404 A.H.
[3] Burujardi, Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al-Ulum, al-Fawaed al-Rijaliyah, researcher, editor, Bahr al-Ulum, Muhammad Sadiq, Bahr al-Ulum, vol.1, p. 56, Tehran, Al-Sadiq Library, first edition, 1405 A.H.
[4] For further information in this regard, see: “Continuation of Human Generation”, question 514.
Ahmed Hilmi

Ahmed Hilmi

Ahmed is a contributor for Medina minds. He has also written the book Shield of the Believer

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