Abraham, also called Abram (in Hebrew Avram) was the first of Hebrew patriarchs and a figure revered by the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to Genesis, Abraham left Ur, in Mesopotamia, because God called him to found a new nation in an undesignated land that he was later to learn, namely, Canaan. He obeyed unquestioningly the commands of God, from whom he received repeated promises and a covenant according to which his “seed” would inherit the land.
Abraham, born c.1810 in Ur, immigrated with his father to Haran, in Northern Irak. No information is available until his 75th year. God who called Himself Jehovah ( Judeo-Christian name for Jahweh) inspired Abraham that he had chosen him for a set purpose.« Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. »(Genesis 12/1-3)
He believed in a unique Creative Power
The land where Abraham lived was inhabited by pagans. He was devoted to the worship of one God. (Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian, but he was true in faith and bowed his will to God's, And he joined not gods with God.) The Qur'an, 3/6.
Abraham had preached to Babylonians, who worshipped idols and stars, God's true religion. Yet, they had, along with his own father, denied the truth. (Lo! Abraham said to his father Azar: “Takest thou idols for Gods? For, I see thee and thy people in manifest error.” The Qur'an, 6/74. And their reaction had been as follows: (When it is said to them: “Follow what God has revealed,” they say: “Nay! We shall follow the ways of our fathers.” What! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?” (The Qur'an, 2/170)
Abraham's Iconoclasm and his trial by fire
Abraham had broken the idols in the absence of witnesses, but people who saw the destruction of their idols realized that it was Abraham's doing. (They said: Art thou the one that did this with our gods, O Abraham?”) The Qur'an, 21/62. (Abraham said: Do ye then worship besides God, things that can neither be of any good to you nor do you harm?) The Qur'an, 21/66. (They said: Burn him and protect your gods…” The Qur'an, 21/68. (We said: “O fire! Be thou cool…” (The Qur'an, 21/69).
Following God's address to him, Abraham and his wife Sarah, together with Lot, the son of his brother Haran, went to Canaan (Palestine). « And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.» (Genesis 12/7)
Birth of Ishmael and his Consecration
Ten years after Abraham had settled in Canaan, Abraham was faced with a difficulty. Sarah was barren, but she wanted that his husband had another son and she suggested her husband to take a second woman, namely Hagar, as concubine. Hagar bore Abraham Ishmael. Abraham was 86 years old at the time. God blessed Ishmael. « And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blesse him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.» (Genesis 17/20) Abraham took Hagar and Ishmael to Paran and left them there in the desert where Ishmael passed his youth and married an Egyptian woman. Ishmaelites formed a race of Hebrew and Egyptian stock. He had 12 sons who were princes. Lord God had commissioned Abraham and Ishmael to build up the Kaaba; Muhammad's posterity goes back to them. « And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing» (Surah 2:127).
God's Covenant with Abraham
Abraham was 99 years old when God addressed him again. « And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. »(Genesis 7/1) « And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. »(Genesis 17/1-11)« The Covenant is often mentioned in different chapters of the Torah. Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.» (Leviticus 29/9) « But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; »(Leviticus 26/14) « And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate. And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.» (Leviticus 26/14-38)
« If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.» (Leviticus 26/40-44)
The Old Testament is full of examples that all the nations of the world will draw lessons. The Israelites were rewarded whenever they abided by the Law and punished when they violated it.
Isaac's Miraculous Birth
Abraham was advanced in years and his wife was past her prime. Yet God announced them that a child would be burn to them. « And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. »(Genesis 17/16) « But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. »(Genesis 17/21)
This anecdote in the Old Testament served as a parable to all firm believers. The readiness of Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son upon God's commandment without the least hesitation showed what faith was. « And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt. Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
This incident is corroborated by the Qur'an : Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!" So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him "O Abraham! "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial- And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice: »(Surah 37/102- 107)
Decease of Abraham
Abrahamn died at the age of 175 and succeeded by his son Isaac who carried on the commandments in the Covenant his father had concluded with God.