Reform Begins at Home
In the previous ayaat we learnt when a person goes astray and chooses the path of shirk his friends call behind him so that he can come back on the right path. The Mushrikeen were the people that the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa salaam grew up with. He was their well-wisher. Before they started worshipping multiple idols they were on the religion of Prophet Ibraheem `alayhi salaam but they were tricked and misguided by the Shayateen. Therefore, in the previous ayaat we studied Prophet’s call and appeal to those disbelievers that they should forsake the worship of idols and believe in a single object of worship: Allah. However, they didn’t listen.
Therefore the present ayaat talk about how Prophet Ibraheem `alayhi salaam invited his father towards monotheism. Since the people of Arabia took Ibraheem `alayhi salaam as their patriarch it was expected his example would be naturally acceptable to them.
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says,
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala instructs Prophet Muhammad sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam to narrate the conversation that took place between Prophet Ibraheem `alayhi salaam and his father `Azar. He advised, discouraged and forbade his father from worshipping idols. He said to his father that he had taken idols made with his own hands as his object of worship, and that he saw him and his entire people in manifest error wandering in confusion unaware of where to go.
`Azar was a respectable elder of the family. Thus, it was from his home that Ibraheem `alayhi salaam gave the first call to truth. Inviting a respected elder of the family, who may not be on the right path of faith, to the right path is not contrary to the norms of reverence. In fact, it is a matter of wishing well for him.
Just as Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala showed Ibraheem `alayhi salaam the misguidance of his father and his people, and how illogical shirk is, similarly, He also showed him the Signs in the heavens and earth so that he could develop yaqeen [certainty] in the Oneness of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. The yaqeen that all those who are worshipped besides Allah are not true gods. The One Who owns the heavens and earth is the Only true God.
He saw the Signs but also reflected on them and the reason of their existence. Through this contemplation or observation Ibraheem `alayhi salaam recognized Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, and therefore he used the same method for preaching his people.
Tawheed Becomes Apparent to Ibraheem
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says next,
Ibraheem `alayhi salaam had committed to proof to his people that the idols are not god. Therefore, when the night enveloped him, he saw a star. Beaming at his people, he said: This is my Lord. The sense in which he said it was: Is it not, as you think and believe, my Lord and your Lord, the Rabb of both of us who nurtures, nourishes and sustains us? In a little while you will find out how real that is. Then, after some time, the star vanished. This gave Ibraheem `alayhi salaam a good occasion to drive his argument home against his disbelieving people. He said, “I like not those that disappear.” Meaning I want my God to be there for me always. Therefore, I am not going to worship a star. Qatadah commented, “Ibraheem knew that his Lord is Eternal and never ceases.” It is said that the star that they saw was actually planet Venus.
After that, some other night, with a glowing moon in sight, he again beamed his dialogue at his people following the earlier method, and said: This is my Lord. But when it set, he said: Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the misguided. Why did he say this? He was showing his people that I am searching for truth. I am using my mind. You should also do the same. And the Lord Who created us, if He doesn’t guide us then we are destroyed. In other words, he is making du`a for guidance.
His people again didn’t believe him so he looked for another Sign. When he saw the sun rising he said to his people as he had done earlier, and added this is bigger than the star and the moon, and more radiant. When the sunset time came, the sun went down.
We should note here that through these examples Ibraheem `alayhi salaam was teaching his people Tawheed. He was debating with his people, explaining to them the error of their way in worshipping idols and images. In the first case with his father, Ibraheem explained to his people their error in worshipping the idols of earth, which they made in the shape of heavenly angels, so that they intercede on their behalf with the Glorious Creator. His people thought that they are too insignificant to worship Allah directly, and this is why they turned to the worship of angels as intercessors with Allah for their provisions, gaining victory and attaining their various needs.
He then explained to them the error and deviation of worshipping the seven planets, which they said were the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The brightest of these objects and the most honored to them was the Sun, the Moon then Venus. Ibraheem `alayhi salaam first proved that Venus is not worthy of being worshipped, for it is subservient to a term and course appointed that it does not defy, nor swerving right or left. Venus does not have any say in its affairs, for it is only a heavenly object that Allah created and made bright out of His wisdom. Venus rises from the east and sets in the west where it disappears from sight. This rotation is repeated the next night, and so forth. Such an object is not worthy of being a god.
Ibraheem then went on to mention the Moon in the same manner in which he mentioned Venus, and then the Sun. When he proved that these three objects were not gods, although they are the brightest objects the eyes can see, he said I am free from worshipping these objects and from taking them as protectors. I have purified my religion and made my worship sincere towards Him Who originated the heavens and earth.
People asked if you do not worship these then who do you worship. Prophet Ibraheem replied,
I worship the Creator of these things, Who originated and decreed them, and Who governs their affairs and made them subservient. It is He in Whose Hand is the dominion of all things, and He is the Creator, Lord, King and God of all things in existence.
– We learn that when one begins to do da`wah, he should first start from his own home. He should begin from his family, and his immediate circle of friends. This is the Sunnah of the Prophets `alayhi salaam.
– We learn two important da`wah techniques that is asking questions so that the other person is curious and thinks. And secondly using logic or common sense. For example, Ibraheem `alayhi salaam asked his father if he really thought the idols that he created with his own hands helped him.
– Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has created various Signs for us to reflect on. When a person reflects on the Signs of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala the way it should be such a person develops conviction in his heart.
– We learn the characteristic prophetic wisdom and elegance of approaching a matter. Instead of making frontal assaults on the false notions of star-worship entertained by his people Ibraheem `alayhi salaam rather chose a very telling style of presentation. He aroused their curiosity and got them engaged.
– We learn the importance of reflecting on the creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala both big and small.
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