Was Azar the Father of Prophet Abraham AS?

Was Azar the Father of Prophet Abraham AS?

 

The word ‘Ab’ can refer to the biological father as well as to the uncle or others*. In the case of Prophet Abraham the question is whether Azar the idol worshipper was his biological father or not? What is apparent from the verse [6:74] ‘And when Abraham said to his Ab (father) do you take idols for gods?’ and verses 19:42, 21:52, 26:70, 37:85, 43:26, 9:114 and others is that the ‘Ab’ of Abraham [as] was not a monotheist. However it is unclear from these verses whether the ‘Ab’ was his actual biological father or someone else, and whether the biological father of Abraham was a monotheist or not. We are unable to come to any one of these conclusions from these verses that use the word ‘Ab’, but we are able to use another verse that uses the word ‘walid’ (biological father) instead of ‘Ab’ {which is a more general term} to give us the answers. From this verse (that uses walid) we come to know that Azar the idol worshipper was not the biological father of Prophet Abraham [as] but someone else who was a monotheist but whose name hasn’t been mentioned in the Qur’an. Allah swt has said:

(i) [9:113] It is not (fit) for the Prophet and those who believe that they should ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even though they should be near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are inmates of the flaming fire.
(ii) [9:114] And Ibrahim asking forgiveness for his Ab was only owing to a promise which he had made to him; but when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of Allah, he declared himself to be clear of him; most surely Ibrahim was very tender-hearted forbearing.
(iii) Prophet Abraham [as] supplicated to Allah in his old agesaying [14:41] Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the day when the account is cast.

From these verses we can conclude two things. Firstly, Azar the idol worshipper was not the biological father of Prophet Abraham [as] as he ‘declared himself to be clear of him’ once it became evident that he was a polytheist and enemy of Allah swt, and he never asked forgiveness for him after that. Secondly, he sought forgiveness for his parents (walidaya) when he was an old man**, showing that they were worthy of forgiveness, i.e. they were believers and not polytheists.

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*As proof for this read verse 2:133 in which Nabi Isma’eel [a] who was Ya’qoob’s [a] paternal uncle is referred to as his Ab.

**We know that the prayer for forgiveness of his parents in 14:41 was said in Nabi Ibrahim’s [a] old age because he prays for his sons as well, and he had these sons when he was an old man. This is the whole passage:

[14:39] Praise be to Allah, Who has given me in old age Ismail and Ishaq; most surely my Lord is the Hearer of prayer:

[14:40] My Lord! make me keep up prayer and from my offspring, O our Lord, and accept my prayer
[14:41] Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the day when the account is cast

 

And when Ibrahim said to his sire, Azar: Do you take idle for gods ? Surely I see you and your people in manifest error. (Qur’an: Surah Al Anaam, Verse 74)

 

And Ibrahim asking forgiveness for his sire was only owing to a promise that he made to him; but when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of Allah, he declared himself to be clear of him; most surely Ibrahim was very tenderhearted and forbearing. (Qur’an: Surah Al Tauba, Verse 114)

In the above verses, the word ‘ Ab ‘ has been used for Azar. However, ‘Ab’ has different meanings and does not necessarily mean ‘Walid’ (biological father).

The Holy Prophet (S) has said that the essence of his existence had been transmitted and ultimately conveyed to his immediate parents through a pure, a holy and sanctified progeny.

Now the word ‘ Ab ‘ in Arabic language may mean father as well as ancestor or even uncle as Ishmael (Ismail) the uncle of Jacob (Yaqoub) has been addressed as ‘ Ab ‘ in the following Qur’anic verse …

Nay! were you witnesses when death visited Yaqoub, when he said to his sons: What will you serve after me ? They said: Well will serve your God and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq, one God only, and to Him do we submit. (Qur’an 2:113)

Since Ishmael was not the father of Jacob, and yet Qur’an uses the word ‘Ab’ for him as uncle, then the usage of this word for other than biological father is established…

Besides Prophet Abraham prays for his biological father (Walid) along with the other believers, which clearly indicates that his biological father was not a polytheist. This is evident from the following Qur’anic verse …

O our Lord! grant me protection and my parents (Walidayn) and the believers on the day when the reckoning shall come to pass. (Qur’an 14:41)

رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ 

But what is surprising, that knowing for fact Ibrahim’s (as) father was ‘Tarakh’ and not ‘Azar’ as stipulated by some Sunni historians, which is in total conformity with the opinion of Shi’a. Ibn Katheer in his work on history writes:

Ibrahim (as) was the son of Tarakh. When Tarakh was 75 years of age, Ibrahim (as) was born to him.

Sunni reference: al-Bidaya wan Nahaya, by Ibn Katheer, v 1 p 139

This is also confirmed by Tabari, as he gives the lineage of Ibrahim’s (as) family in his history collection, but then also in his Commentary of the Qur’an he states that ‘Azar’ was NOT the father of Ibrahim (as).

Sunni references:

– History of al-Tabari, v 1 p 119
– Tafsir Tabari, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, v 7 p 158

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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