The Quran mentions a lot of stories that we can learn from, that were made to learn from, so it is very important to be able to take the moral or lesson from various prophets’ stories as we hear them.
A long time ago, in a city called Ur, (present day Iraq) there lived a famous and respected man called Azar. He was a sculptor who made the idols, or statues, that were kept in the temple. The people in the city all worshipped these idols, prostrated in front of them, and believed that they were gods.
Azar was also involved in all of these beliefs and held strong to them. He had a young son called Ibrahim, who was a very humble and pious boy. Ibrahim often wondered how his father and the people of Ur believed that idols were gods, when they could neither speak nor hear.
‘I wonder why people worship such useless idols,’ he thought.
He was not interested in the statues that his people worshipped.
“Then who is my lord? Who created me?” he often asked himself.
One night, Ibrahim went outside and stared at the bright stars.
‘This must be my lord,’ he thought about the biggest one. When it started fading, he said “No, no, that star cannot be my god.”
Then, he turned his attention to the moon. “This is my lord,” he said to himself. When the moon’s light vanished into daylight, he shook his head. “No. This cannot be my lord, either.”
He looked towards the sun, and realized, “Of course, this is my god. It’s the biggest.” But eventually, even the sun’s rays faded, and the young boy said, “This isn’t my lord. My lord is alive; He will never die. He is the most powerful, and He is my lord, and the lord of the sun and the moon and the stars.”
As you can see, at a very small age, Ibrahim started thinking big thoughts.
One day he asked his father, Azar, “O, father, what do these idols do that makes you worship them? They don’t speak, nor can they hear. You have made them with your own hands, so then how can they be your gods?”
When Azar heard the words of his young and intelligent son, he was furious. Ibrahim’s way of thinking spread throughout the city. Most people rejected his claims and called him a liar.
So, Ibrahim (A.S) thought of a plan to prove his point. One day, everyone was out to celebrate their holy festival. He was supposed to go to the festival as well, but he had refused, saying he did not feel well. He entered the temple where they kept all the idols, and went up to one “What’s the matter?” he asked. “Why don’t you say anything?”
The idols remained silent and did not move.
Angrily, he swung the big axe in his hand, and brought it down heavily on to all the small idols, smashing them to bits and destroying them completely.
Then, he did something strange. He left his axe in the arms of the biggest idol, which remained untouched.
After some time, people finally returned from their celebrations to the temple, where a shocking scene was waiting for them. They cried in horror at the sight of the destroyed statues, pieces of stone scattered everywhere. There was an outrage. “Who has done this?” they screamed. “Bring him up and he will be rightly punished!”
Then they remembered Ibrahim (A.S), and how he did not appreciate their gods. They called him and asked, “Did you destroy our idols?”
Ibrahim (A.S) answered calmly, “Why don’t you ask the biggest idol, he’s holding the axe – he would know.”
They looked at each other and admitted sheepishly, “You know they do not speak.”
So Ibrahim (A.S) said at once, “Then why do you worship them? They cannot even take care of themselves, so how will they affect you in any way?”
Privately, they were all ashamed at their stupidity, but admitting their faults to a small boy was hard for them, so they got angry at him instead. They took him to the king, who considered himself to be the King of Gods.
He looked at Ibrahim (A.S) and said, “O Ibrahim, who is your Lord?”
The prophet returned fearlessly, “My Lord is Allah (S.W.T).”
The king asked, “Who is Allah?”
Ibrahim (A.S) replied, “Allah is he who gives life and death.”
The king scoffed. “I can give someone life or make someone die.” He called a man who had been sentenced to death and called off his punishment, then killed a prisoner that was supposed to be freed.
Ibrahim (A.S) knew the king’s stupidity, and calmly challenged, “Allah (S.W.T) makes the sun rise from the east. Make it rise from the west, if you really are a god.”
The king was stumped. He glanced angrily at the young boy in front of him, and knew that he had won.
Seething with rage, he pointed a finger at Ibrahim (A.S) and shouted to his soldiers. “SEIZE HIM!” he screamed. “AND THROW HIM IN THE FIRE – THE LARGEST, HOTTEST FIRE YOU CAN MAKE!”
All of the king’s soldiers, courtiers, and servants rushed forward to grab Ibrahim (A.S) and dragged him away. They gathered in a large, clear area where the fire was supposed to be lit. The soldiers made sure, per the king’s orders, that the fire was roaring and crackling before they brought Ibrahim (A.S) near it. When the fire was ready, the prophet was brought out and flung towards the heat.
But you know that Allah (S.W.T) always helps his prophets and it was not very difficult for Him to command, “O fire, be cool and safe for Ibrahim.”
The crowd was waiting excitedly to see what would happen to Ibrahim (A.S), but they watched in great fear and surprise as the young prophet stayed exactly how he was – did not so much as flinch – and walked calmly out of the fire, not burnt at all.
Even against the whole city, Allah (S.W.T) was enough for Ibrahim.
The prophet tried to preach to his people, but sadly, they were not ready to listen to anything he had to say. He left the place and migrated to Palestine.
By Allah (S.W.T)’s mercy on his obedient slave, Ibrahim (A.S) was blessed with two most pious sons, who eventually became messengers themselves, one of them being the builder of Kaaba and the other a leader of the Muslim ummah.
To reward Ibrahim (A.S), Allah (S.W.T) made him the Leader of Muslims, and the Father of All Prophets, and he will be remembered by those names until the Day of Judgement.
Written by: Naima Sohaib
Translated by: Maryam Sohaib
Translated from: Urdu (Book – Rimjhim)
REFERENCE: Al-Anbiya Verse No:69
Full ayah: We said, “O fire, be cool and safe for Abraham.”