Doctrines > Quranic Storytelling in Dialogue   (8)

 

He addressed them in another verse, thus: “Is it a falsehood – gods other than God – that ye desire?” (37: 86). The mood here is unwavering and direct; the main thrust of which seemed to be that of reciprocity – force for force. However, in another verse, it is noticeable that his tone was mild yet tough. Abraham (a.s.) appeared to make an intelligent and sudden move, intending to switch the atmosphere from dialogue on idols to the ambience of a scene where he was in God’s audience in total submission, only to numerate His favors to him, suggesting that man’s fate is in God’s hands. After this, he immediately moved to saying a special prayer, invoking Him, with utter humility, to answer it. This is a manifestation of the spiritual experience belief instills in man’s life:

And rehearse to them (something of) Abraham’s story. “Behold”, he said to his father and his people: “What worship ye?” They said: “We worship idols, and we remain constantly in attendance on them.” He said: “Do they listen to you when ye call (on them), or do you good or harm?” They said: “Nay, but we found our fathers doing thus (what we do).” He said: “Do ye then see whom ye have been worshipping, Ye and your fathers before you? For they are enemies to me; not so the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds; who created me, and it is He Who guides me; Who gives me food and drink, and when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; Who will cause me to die, and then to life (again); and who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment.

“O my Lord! Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous; grant me honorable mention on the tongue of truth among the latest (generations); make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Bliss; forgive my father, for that he is among those astray; and let me not be in disgrace on the Day when (men) will be raised up; The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart; those apostles We endowed with gifts, some above other.” (26: 69–89).

We can make use of this style of dialogue in calling people with whom we have emotional ties. This brief Quranic dialogue has illustrated how one can handle similar situations with clarity of vision and purpose. We can experience the atmosphere of this dialogue and emulate it in real life situations.

As we live the scene, where belief rules supreme, doing away with all feelings of worry and uncertainty, we might also make the connection between this scene, of Abraham (a.s.) and his son, with that of Noah (a.s.) and his son. Here, one can detect some distinctions and differences between the two prophets, although each of them has a lofty station with His Lord, thus: “Those messengers We endowed with gifts, some above others” (2: 252).

The ultimate moral we should derive from experiencing this scene is that it symbolizes the highest echelon of ideals that Islamic education should build on, i.e. in marrying the principles and the practicalities of life and making them interact. This should be so in order that believing generations would follow the examples of active and pioneering religious history as well as original religious instructions, so much so that the body of concepts and ideals would be regarded as having a bearing on, and significance for, the lives of the believers, not abstract ideals per se.

Abraham’s dialogue with Nimrod

Prophet Abraham (a.s.) was a contemporary of a vicious and despotic ruler. The latter was so arrogant that he thought himself a god, who should be worshipped to the exclusion of the One God. Although the Quran did not mention his name, yet religious stories of the prophets call him Nimrod. However, name or no name is of little, if no, importance, because significance emanates from people who set good examples in the decisive positions and original experiments they represent.

In his dialogue, Abraham was unequivocal in his position with Nimrod. Abraham raised with him the question of divinity and how it is linked to Omnipotence, which Nimrod, the dictator, would have none of. Arguing the question of life and death, Abraham put his case that it is God, his Lord, who causes life and death. The tyrant seized the opportunity to play with words and replied that he could cause people to die or live, in that he could reprieve a person who was sentenced to death, or execute him, thus causing him to die. He concluded that, in that regard, he was not different from Abraham’s God.

Abraham (a.s. )did not leave him to bask in what he perceived to be a triumph over him. He mounted a determined challenge against him. Natural phenomena are of God’s making. So, he challenged him into changing the course of the sun in its rising and setting. Could he cause it to rise from the west? Nimrod was left speechless. This is how the Holy Quran describes the dialogue between the two men:

Hast thou not turned thy vision to one who disputed with Abraham about his Lord, because God had granted him power? Abraham said: “My Lord is He Who Gives life and death.” He said: “I give life and death”. Said Abraham: “But it is God that causes the sun to rise from the East: Do thou then cause him to rise from the West.” Thus, was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected faith. Nor doth God give guidance to a people unjust. (2: 258)

Sabotaging the plan of deception

The message we can get from Prophet Abraham’s dialogue with Nimrod is that we should be able to counter those who attempt to falsify the truths, whether they are ones that relate to doctrinal issues or those that have a bearing on matters of life. No doubt, those quarters aim to pull the wool over the eyes of the naive among people. So, by focusing the debate on matters that are crystal clear, we can contribute to denuding the tactics of the misguided and the devious.

In achieving this goal, we should be conversant with the methods of misguidance that target simple people. We should also be familiar with the direct and straightforward ways that are capable of countering the slyness of the deceitful. These ways should be sound and strong enough as not be undermined or resisted. This, of course, requires the activists to keep up to date with the changing scene of life and the laws that govern it and guide its steps, in full conscience, comprehensiveness, and openness.

The prophetic preponderance

Discussing the dialogue in the story of Prophet Abraham (a.s.) represents [just] one aspect of his life, because our purpose has been to examine the characters that bore the responsibility of calling to the way of God, not to make an exhaustive study of their lives. However, we have managed to reap good results regarding the approach to dialogue in the way of God and the dynamic aspects of work in His cause.

As we conclude the narrative about Abraham, we must reiterate that his brilliant moral fiber struck an accord with God, in that he was calling to mind the feeling of the relationship between the Creator and the created, so much so that you can feel that mood. To him, God existed in every corner of his life – while eating or drinking, in sickness or in health, in this life or the hereafter, and in life and death. This is so because he felt the dire need for God’s help in everything, especially in his work in delivering the Divine message he was entrusted with, which needed a lot of effort and sacrifices.

Perhaps, the strength of his character and spirit made him overcome with forcefulness and serenity of mind all the situations that confronted him in his life, without letting fear find a way to his heart.

This is the practical outcome we get from Abraham’s mission in life, which we should put to use in cultivating and shaping the Islamic devout person so that they can discharge their responsibility of Islamic work for the Message and life alike, from a position of submission to God in word and deed.