By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi
No sooner had Ibrahim made this declaration than tribulations and calamities of the greatest magnitude descended on him.
His father threatened him with expulsion from the family home. His community warned him that no one among them would give him refuge. And the government officials insisted on his case being brought before the King. But Ibrahim, lonely and forsaken by his relatives and friends, stood firm as a rock in the cause of Truth. He told his father respectfully:
The knowledge I have has not been vouchsafed to you. As such, instead of my following you, you should follow me. (Maryam 19: 41-5)
In answer to the threats of his community he broke their idols with his own hands to prove how powerless they were:
And by Allah, I have a plan for your idols – after ye go away and turn your backs. So he broke them to pieces, (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it… (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 57-58)
In the court of the King, he boldly declared: “You are not my Lord. My Lord is He in whose hands are your life and death as well as mine, and within the bounds of whose law even the movements of the sun are circumscribed.” (Al-Baqarah 2:258)
The royal court decided that Ibrahim should be burnt alive and he willingly came forward to suffer this horrible punishment for the sake of his unshakeable faith in the One God. After Allah with His supreme power saved him from this fate, he abandoned his home, his relations, his community and his country. He set out with his wife, Sarah, and a nephew, Lut, to wander from one land to another.
To this man the undisputed religious leadership of his people had been available. Yet he gave up wealth and power and preferred the life of a homeless and destitute wanderer rather than have to mislead people into the continuing worship of false gods.
He chose to live for the purpose of summoning people to their true God, even though he would be driven from place to place.
After leaving his home, the Prophet Ibrahim wandered in Egypt, Palestine and Arabia. God, alone, knows what sufferings he went through on his journeyings. He had no money or possessions nor did he have time to earn his livelihood. His sole vocation, day and night, was to bring people to the worship of the One God.
If a man of such ideas could not be tolerated by his own father and his own community, how was he going to be any more successful elsewhere? Where would he be welcomed? Everywhere the same temple priests and kings claiming godhood held sway; everywhere the same confused and ignorant common men lived, who were completely hoodwinked by them.
How could, then, Ibrahim live peacefully in such an environment? For, not only was he himself not ready to accept the godhood of anybody except God, but he was also committed to proclaiming to the people that none except Allah was their Master and Lord and that, therefore, they should ignore the authority of their leaders and demi-gods and submit only to that One Being.
Thus condemned to a nomadic existence, wandering through Palestine, Egypt and the vast deserts of Arabia, he passed his whole adult life.
Raising a New Generation
During the last period of his life, when he was eighty-six and had despaired of offspring, Allah gave· him a child, Isma`il. But even then, this loyal servant of Allah did not think that, having himself wrecked his own home life, he should at least prepare his children to earn their living. No.
His only concern was that the mission on which he had spent his whole life should be carried on after his death. It was for this purpose that he had prayed to Allah to grant him children:
Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! You, only You, are the Relenting, the Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:128)
And when Allah granted his request, his only thought was to educate and train them to continue his mission.
The life of this perfect man was the life of a true and genuine Muslim. In early adulthood, when he had found God, God asked him: ‘aslim‘, that is, enter Islam, surrender yourself totally to Me, be solely Mine. In reply, he gave the pledge:
‘aslamtuli-rabbi al-almin’, that is, I have entered Islam, I belong to the Lord of the worlds, I have entrusted myself wholly to Him, I am ever-ready to obey:
And when it is said unto them: believe as the people believe, they say: shall we believe as the foolish believe? are not they indeed the foolish? But they know not. (Al-Baqarah 2:13)
To this pledge Ibrahim remained true throughout his life.
He gave up, for the sake of the Lord of the worlds, his ancestral religion together with its beliefs and rituals and renounced all the material benefits he could have derived from it. He braved the danger of fire, suffered homelessness, wandered from country to country, but spent every moment of his life in obedience to the Lord and in propagating His Deen.
The Greatest of Trials
But even after all these tribulations, there was still one trial left to determine whether Ibrahim’s love for his Lord was supreme above all else. Before the birth of his second son, he was asked to sacrifice what was then his only child to God. (Surat As-Saffat 37: 99-111)
When Allah had shown that Ibrahim was prepared to slaughter his son for His sake with his own hands, He said: ‘You have fully vindicated your claim to be a totally true Muslim. Now you deserve to be made the leader of the whole world.’ This act of investiture has been described in the Qur’an thus:
And when his Lord tested Ibrahim with (His) commands, and he fulfilled them all, He said, Behold, I make you a leader of mankind. Said he (Ibrahim) And of my offspring (will they too be leaders)? He said: My covenant shall not reach the evil-doers. (Al-Baqarah 2:124)
To be continued…
The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.