Eid al-‘Adha: Thus Spoke Ibrahim (‘AS)

Eid al-‘Adha: Thus Spoke Ibrahim (‘AS)

Challenging the well-established religious structure of one of the seats of ancient human civilisation with a culture of its own, in an age when the state could do and undo things on its sweet will, was tantamount to calling the wrath of the state apparatus upon oneself. And no one could support and assist such a person except Providence Itself!
Quite before the time he was bestowed with the mission of Apostleship, Ibrahim (‘AS) pondered over the polytheistic religious structure of his people both at the individual as well as the collective level and found it quite contrary to reason, conscience and common sense. He, thus, confronted the upholders of this structure at every level and left them speechless and confounded.
Ibrahim (‘AS), however, started his journey solitarily, from his own person, reaching finally to the corridors of power after crossing the stages of his family and different levels of society. The multiple natural phenomena which his people had devoted themselves to could not satisfy the inquisitiveness of his mind and soul, and he, thus, outright rejected these phenomena as deities. The monotheistic cravings of Ibrahim (‘AS) could in no way be satisfied by the worship either of the star(s) or by the deification of the moon. Even the greatest deity of his people, that is, the sun, always understood to be the source of “all energy,” Ibrahim (‘AS) declared, was just a creation of the Creator. That is why he declared quite emphatically: “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, toward Him who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” (6:79)
With all humility and respect that is due from a son, Ibrahim (‘AS) enquired from his father about the unreasonable stance of his people vis-à-vis the status and position accorded to different deities by the people. Instead of giving any consideration to the queries of Ibrahim (‘AS), the father was quite aghast over the stand taken by Ibrahim (‘AS). He even threatened him of torture and expulsion from the family fold. The father warned him thus: “Do you hate my gods, O Abraham? If you do not forbear, I will indeed stone you: now get away from me for a good long while!” (19:46)
One thing is very important to note in this regard: that more often than not the “reverse argumentation” employed by Ibrahim (‘AS) to counter his opponents was not given the place and importance, as it should have been given for its being “more philosophic than the philosophical level” that had been achieved by this civilisation. Having exposed the helplessness of their deities, Ibrahim (‘AS), as the people put it, had committed a “serious crime”! So, Ibrahim (‘AS) was brought to the people’s court and asked: “Are you the one that did this with our gods, O Abraham?” (21:62) It is here that Ibrahim (‘AS) struck their conscience by replying: “Nay, this was done by – their biggest one (idol)! Ask them, if they can speak intelligently!” (21:63) Having struck at the nerve of their basic nature, Ibrahim (‘AS) made them speak the truth as: “So they turned to themselves and said, “Surely you are the ones in the wrong! Then they were confounded with shame: (they said), “You know full well that these (idols) do not speak!” (21:64-65)
However, the truth is that Ibrahim (‘AS) put to shreds the “flawed argumentation” of the highest pedestal of power, that is, the Emperor himself. Clearly, the Emperor had himself taken notice of this state of affairs in which the pantheon was being challenged, therefore, Ibrahim (‘AS) had a one-to-one “dialogue” with the ruler. Ibrahim (‘AS) took resort to the same method of argumentation to silence the monarch. This is how the Qur’an explains the conversation: “Have you not turned your vision to one who disputed with Abraham about his Lord, because Allah had granted him power?” Abraham said: “My Lord is He Who gives life and death.” The emperor said: “I give life and death.” Said Abraham: “But it is Allah that causes the sun to rise from the East: do you then cause it to rise from the West?” Thus was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected Faith. Nor does Allah give guidance to a people unjust.” (2:258)
Nevertheless, it is a fact that ‘Ibrahim (‘AS), like all other great Prophets, had taken the instruction of this argumentation neither from a school or from an academy as has always been the case of philosophy the world over where postulating, rhetoric, syllogism, logic, etc, have had been part of the curricula. So, where did Ibrahim (‘AS) learn this argumentation from, because this “art of speech” and “art of motivation” touched the mental, intellectual and psychological levels of all the sections of the society alike. The Qur’an answers this question and says that this “art” came to Ibrahim (‘AS) from the High-Above through inspiration. “That was the reasoning about Us, which We gave to Abraham (to use) against his people: We raise whom We will, degree after degree, for your Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge” (6:83), says the Qur’an.
No doubt that all the Prophets were taught through inspiration by God as per the requirements of their time, but Ibrahim (‘AS), who had to be Abu al-Anbiya’ (the Father of the Prophets), was given this “art” abundantly as has been preserved to posterity and documented through the Qur’an. Thus, having shattered the very foundations of Transgression and Falsehood, Ibrahim (‘AS) has been declared as the “Leader of the People” (imam, 2:124) and a “Nation in himself” (ummah, 16:120). He has also been assigned the honourable titles of “the Upright” (Hanif, 16:120) and the “Friend of God” (Khalil, 4:125). And, having submitted his will to the Lord of the Worlds (i.e., having become Muslim, 2:131), Ibrahim (‘AS) has been presented as “an excellent example” (60:06) for the Faithful in all these roles and Eid al-‘Adha is celebrated for the commemoration of all that which Ibrahim (‘AS) spoke and stood for by the leave of God and this “standing” of Ibrahim (‘AS) is quite different from the central theme of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra!
The writer is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at GDC Kokernag. [email protected]

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