[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]
The life-pattern of Prophet Abraham fulfills the criterion of an ideal model that humanity needs today. The Characteristics of his life are spectacular:
* he was the beloved Prophet of God;
* he believed in the Oneness of God [Monotheism] in its totality;
* he surrendered to directives of his Lord whenever it came and whatever it demanded;
* he sacrificed everything what he possessed for the pleasure of his Lord;
* his journey in search of Truth and Guidance was unique. Let us share it.
GOD'S TRADITION ABOUT GUIDANCE:
God appoints His messengers from the human beings and sends His Guidance for mankind through them as how to live, act and behave on this earth. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad [Peace be upon them] all were appointed in the same process. The Messengers were appointed one after other only when the previously sent guidance was either lost or mutilated or human innovations destroyed it, partially or totally.
Adam was the first Prophet of God on earth. He introduced the Guidance how to live on earth. Subsequently, Adam's sons and daughters lost the Guidance. Then Noah was appointed as the Messenger of God. When the people of his time did not listen to him, a deluge, except the few who became Muslim - obedient to God alone, destroyed them. Some time passed and people again lost the guidance from their Creator and Sustainer. They were totally involved in paganism, idolatry and associating partners with God. Abraham then appeared on the scene around 2100 BC to salvage the destiny of mankind.
ABRAHAM'S QUEST FOR TRUTH:
Here is a brief account of his quest for Truth and the quantum of sacrifice that Prophet Abraham made to get the pleasure of his Lord as presented by Sir Leonard Woolley in his book "Abraham", London, 1935 and what is available from the Torah, the Talmud and the Qur'an.
Sir Leonard Woolley narrates in his book that Abraham was born around 2100 BC in the city of Ur in Iraq. His People were idolaters, materialistic and secular in the attitude of life. They were mostly traders and the economy was interest based. They were fond of luxuries in life style. The population was divided into three classes.
The upper class was consisting of priests, civil and military officials. It was the privileged class. The rest were traders, manufacturers, farmers and Slaves. Abraham was born in such a society. His family belonged to the upper class. His father was holding the highest post of the state. There were about 5,000 idols in Ur. The greatest was the city-god, called "Nannar' [goddess of moon]. The sun, the moon and the stars were worshipped like gods and "religious prostitutes" were all around in temples, rendering all kinds of "services" to priests. Huge properties, wealth and lands were possessed by temples, which were also the central places for delivering justice to the people.
Abraham was born in the family and the environment of idol worshippers. But when he got maturity, he started thinking and discarded the stars, the moon and the sun one after the other that they cannot be the God, the Creator and the Sustainer. Thus he turned his face towards Lord God in this process. The Qur'an describes this episode of Abraham's life in detail in Chapter Al-Ana'm Verses 74 to 79.
ABRAHAM'S FIRST TEST - THE INFERNO: In order to divert the attention of the worshippers from the lifeless idols that could do "no-good-no-harm", he, one night demolished all the idols by his hands except the big one in the temple and put the hammer on its shoulder. When the people came to know that Abraham did the "mischief", they called him and put him to questions. He sarcastically pinpointed to the big idol and said, "ask it if it speaks". The idolaters were dumbfounded and realized the fallacy of worshiping idols that even could not speak. But they immediately turned back to their ignorance and resolved to support their lifeless, deaf and dumb idols. They resolved to throw Abraham into a huge fire. The inferno by the grace of Lord God became garden for Abraham, He came out of it unharmed. His belief in God was tested. Nothing could do any harm to him but he was forced to leave his country, his home, his father, and his people and migrated to Trans-Jordan with his nephew, Lot, who was the only believer with him at that time.
HIS MIGRATION: He was born in Ur [Iraq]. After his trial in the inferno, he left his home and migrated to Heron. Later on he went to Palestine and set up the center of Dawah [the call to the fold of the Creator and Sustainer] at Bethel, Hebron and Bai'r Sheba. He deputed his nephew, Prophet Lot, to the Eastern part of the Dead Sea. He then traveled to Egypt, a center of civilization of the day next only to Iraq in its splendor. It is, however, not known definitely whether he established any center of Dawah in Egypt. He married with Hagar, the slave girl, presented to him by his wife Sarah. Prophet Ishmael was born out this wedlock.
HIS IMMENSE SACRIFICE FOR THE PLEASURE OF GOD: Next he went to Hijaz [Arabia] and left his wife, Hagar and the first newly born son, Ishmael, in the wilderness of Makkah with little water and food. It was as ordained by Lord God. It was a great test from God. The mother, Hagar desperately tried for water. Ultimately, God rewarded her efforts with a fountain, which is called Zamzam. The fountain of Zamzam is still there by the side of Haram [the House of Lord] in Makkah, and millions of people quench their thirst from its water every year. Both mother and son settled down in Makkah. When Ishmael was a grown up boy, Abraham visited Makkah and with his help built the Haram, the House of Lord. He entrusted the House to his son Ishmael. Later on, Abraham saw in his dream that he is slaughtering his son. He described his dream to his son, Ishmael, who readily told to his father to do as he is ordained to do by God. Abraham took his son, Ishmael, to the wilderness of Makkah with every intention to slaughter him as dreamed but his Lord God accepted his intention, saved Ishmael by sending a ram from heaven, which Abraham slaughtered. Thus Abraham came out successful in every test as ordained by his Lord God. Lord God rewarded Abraham by declaring him to be Leader of nations [mankind] both from Ishmael and Isaac. Muslims and Jews.
Muslims are commemorating the legacies of Abraham, the father, Hagar, the mother and Ishmael, the son every year at the time of Hajj in Makkah with total devotion to God with sacrifice of time and resources just to get the pleasure of God. Equally, at the same time, Muslims celebrate Eidul Adha all around the world by sacrificing a goat, a lamb, a cow or a camel in memory of the sacrifice that Prophet Abraham presented in the wilderness of Makkah for his son, Prophet Ishmael. The sacrifices of the three, the father, the mother, and the son are unique in the annals of the history of mankind. It is a model for all the Jewish, Christian and Muslim families to follow as an established ideal to get their respective houses corrected and filled with the spirit of devotion to God.
Abraham finally settled down in Palestinian City of Hebron. His second son, Isaac, was born from Sarah. Isaac succeeded Abraham after his death, followed by Prophet Jacob who is also known as Israel. Abraham was a man of means with flocks of sheep, goats and camels in his possession. Equally, his hospitality to guests was also well known.
THE ESSENCE OF THE LIFE-LONG EFFORTS OF ABRAHAM:
From what I have discussed above and what is crystal clear from the life of Prophet Abraham it can be summarized as follows:
* It sets a life of total devotion to his Lord, associating no partners with Him, either in His person and or in His attributes;
* After rejecting the stars, the moon and the sun as gods he declared, " I turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth and that I am not an idolater" [The Qur'an 6: 79];
* Sacrificing all that he possessed or owned in the way of God to get His pleasure;
* His life stands as the symbol of purest monotheism, Oneness of God. He totally annihilated all the concepts of idolatry and associating partners with God under any circumstances;
* He was the founder of two clans of prophets from his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, formulating the three communities of Christians, Muslims and Jews, covering more than half of the human population;
* He left behind the legacies of a family - the father, the mother and the son, which demonstrates a life of total surrender to the will and wishes of God, the Almighty, and a perfect Model to be followed by all human beings till eternity.
* It sets the model to struggle for the pleasure of God for the Jews, Christians and Muslims till eternity, if they are really interested to get perfect peace on this world and salvation in the life hereafter.
THE MODEL FOR HUMANITY:
Human society has reached a stage where individuals are trying to maximize their personal pleasures and the materialistic values of life have reached to the optimum point of self-destruction. On the other side, humanity has lost the sense of direction as who is the Lord of the universe and whom the humans are accountable for all that they possess, claim, enjoy, do and behave on this earth. Most of the individuals are denying the authority of their Creator and Sustainer and seek refuge in an illusionary self-conceived and self-deceptive concept of "mother- nature", especially when they encounter any catastrophe in the human society either from earth or sky or repercussions of their own unnatural life -style. They presume this life as the only life and do not care about the evil effects of their respective actions and deeds, both on individual and collective levels. They fail to realize that in spite of their denial they are bound to harvest its evil effects in this life and in the hereafter
The life of Prophet Abraham presents the ideal-model as how to live a life of total devotion to the Lord of the universe and lead a life of moderation in the midst of liberalism, pursuits of happiness and materialistic values. He sets a model before us how the wives and the children should respond to the call of the patriarch, the key point to balance our decaying family system and put it back on track where the family values rotate around the obedience to parents and love to children. Similarly, Prophet Abraham sets the model, which demonstrates that the love for God is above all. Everything is subservient to it. How the objective of life rotates around seeking the pleasure of God and not wondering in the wilderness of desires, caprices and pursuit of happiness, the root cause of our moral, social and spiritual decadence.
The life of Abraham, his wife and his son are the models for each father, each mother and each son of our society to be followed. These models will help us in developing our homes as "sweet homes". It is the need of every American man, woman and child today to balance his or her individual, family and collective life. Only following these human models, we can rebuild our families and the society on healthy and constructive lines. Every one of us is crying for sweet homes and family values but mere crying will not do well. The Model life of Prophet Abraham can protect us today and our future generations to come.
CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP:
The moral and ethical crisis we see in America and all over the world is very scary. The leadership and politicians are not providing a respectful and honest model which our children and adults could be proud of. What is lacking? It is the true and proven model for all. By following a trusted model, happiness and peace could really become a part of our individual, family and collective life. It is now a prime time in America that all religions, especially the Jewish, the Christian and the Muslims who believe that Prophet Abraham, who is the father of these three major faiths, could present his life as an undisputed model for all. It will resolve the crisis of leadership in our political arena.
Human society cannot be corrected and balanced unless it turns its face to its Creator and Sustainer and follow the model set by the Messengers of God. The life-pattern of Prophet Abraham is one of the most accomplished models that we need today.
Shamim A Siddiqi
February 8, 2003