Al-Baqarah · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Debate between Prophet Ibraheem and Nimrod


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful



Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 258

In the last ayah, we learned that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the Wali [Guardian or Protector] of the believers. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala now gives an example of how He protects His obedient servants.


Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibraheem…”

The word hajja [حَاجَّ] is from the root letters ha-jeem-jeem and it means to intend to a certain target. What is the goal of an argument? To defeat the opponent.

The king who disputed with Ibraheem was King Nimrod, son of Canaan, as Mujahid stated. Mujahid said, “The kings who ruled the eastern and western parts of the world are four, two believers and two disbelievers. As for the two believing kings, they were Sulayman bin Dawud and Dhul-Qarnayn. As for the two disbelieving kings, they were Nimrod and Nebuchadnezzar.” Allah knows best.

When a person recognizes the greatness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala – out of his love for Him wants everyone to know who Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is. Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam did the same – he called people to Allah.

In ancient times, the king was not just the ruler of the people but also called god. People would worship him and live as his slaves – having no freedom of speech.

When King Nimrod learned that Prophet Ibraheem was calling people to the worship of One God, he did not like it. He was deceived into thinking that since he has both wealth and power, he is the most powerful person, therefore, a god.

In Surah Alaq, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ – أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ

“No! [But] indeed, man transgresses. Because he sees himself self-sufficient,” (96: 6-7) it means that what makes a person rebel is the thinking that I don’t need Allah. I am self-sufficient.

[The Threat against Man’s Transgression for the sake of Wealth]

Nimrod denied the existence of a god other than himself just as Fir’awn [Pharaoh] did. When Prophet Musa ‘alayhi salaam made da’wah [invitation to Allah] to Fir’awn, Fir’awn said to his people, “I have not known you to have a god other than me,” (al-Qasas 28: 38).

Nimrod had ruled over his people for a long time therefore, he became a tyrant. He asked Prophet Ibraheem to produce proof of Allah’s exists, Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam replied, “My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death.”

Ibn Katheer interprets this ayah: The proof of Allah’s existence is the creations that exist after they were nothing and perish after they had existed. This only proves the existence of the Creator, Who does what He wills, for these things could not have occurred on their own without a Creator who created them, and He is the Lord that I [Prophet Ibraheem] call to for worship, Alone without a partner.

Nimrod replied, “I give life and cause death.” He called two men who deserved execution. He commanded that one of them be killed and the second man be pardoned. And then said this is how I bring life and death.

Prophet Ibraheem did not argue with Nimrod and moved on to the next fact, “Verily! Allah causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it you to rise from the west.”

It means that if you claim that it is you who brings life and death then who brings life and death controls the existence and creates whatever is in it, including its planets and their movements. For instance, the sun rises every day from the east. Therefore, if you are a god, as you claim, bringing life and death, then bring the sun from the west. Since the king was aware of his weakness, inadequacy and that he was not able to reply to Ibraheem’s request, he was idle, silent and unable to comment. Therefore, the proof was established against him.

The word fabuhita [فَبُهِتَ] is from the root letters ba-ha-ta and it means confound, confuse, dumbfound, unable to see the right course.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And Allah guides not the people, who are Zalimoon [wrongdoers, etc.].” Ibn Katheer writes: Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala deprives the unjust people of any valid proof or argument. Their false proof and arguments are annulled by their Lord, and they have earned His anger and will suffer severe torment.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blessed Nimrod with an opportunity to be guided by sending His Khaleel – Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam. But since Nimrod was Taghoot himself and followed Taghoot, he was deprived of the understanding of the message. We have learned in the previous ayaat those who follow Taghoot will not be guided even if the truth is clear.

[Prophet Ibraheem is Allah’s Khaleel]


-The stories of the prophets contain many lessons for us. In this ayah, we learn that Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam does not call Nimrod to a particular Masjid [mosque] or group, but to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He does not talk about what is wrong with Nimrod or how his thinking is incorrect; he directly starts talking about Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When we do da’wah to people, what is our approach? We begin by refuting their practices. Immediately the listener will go in a defensive mode. Call people to Allah – spread the message of Tawheed.

[Speech Etiquette]

A person cannot understand the message unless they know who Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is.

-We also learn the etiquette of da’wah. When Nimrod claims that he too gives life and death, Prophet Ibraheem does not argue with him. Instead, he moves on to the next statement. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us to live our lives with excellence. It means when we are calling people to Allah or having interfaith debates, we should not forget out manners. Speak in the best way possible. Don’t attack people or their beliefs. Make them question what they are doing, such as on Halloween, make them think what they are doing. Why dress up like ghosts and animals?

-Remember that arguments are not worth your time. Don’t get stuck arguing with people. It is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Who guides people. Our responsibility is to spread the message in the best way possible – which means be careful about the words that you choose, the way you speak and your behavior.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 258

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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