Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then mentioned His favour upon Abraham, His close friend, saying: (And when his Lord tried Abraham with some words) He commanded him to fulfil ten traits: five in relation to his head and five to his body, (and he fulfilled them) he complied. It is also said that (And when his Lord tried Abraham with some words) means: with every single word he prayed to Allah, (He said) to him: (Lo! I have appointed you a leader for mankind) a vicegerent that people may emulate you. (He) Abraham (said: And of my offspring) make of my offspring vicegerents that people would emulate? (He) Allah (said: My covenant) with you and My promise to you and the honour and mercy I bestowed upon you (includeth not wrong-doers) from among your offspring; it is also said that this means: My covenant will not include the wrong-doers in the Hereafter but it will include them in this life.
It has been narrated from al-Ḥasan that he said, “God tried him with the stars, the moon, and the sun, and he spoke beautiful words in that, for he knew that His Lord was constant and never ceasing. He tried him with the sacrifice of the son, and he was patient in that and did not fall short.” He is saying that the shining stars and brilliant sun were adorned, and Abraham was tested. “That was so that the one tried would know, not that the one trying him was ignorant.” In other words, this was to show him what comes from him and how he was walking on the road of servanthood.
Abraham came out of it extremely virtuous, fortunate, and felicitous. He said, “This is my Lord” [6:76]. It is said that here there is an ellipsis. He means, “They say, 'This is my Lord.' These estranged ones say that this is my God. But it is not, for this is one of the low ones, those taken down. I do not love the low ones and the taken down.”
Well done Abraham! He spoke a splendid point. It rose up from the low, but he knew that the Lord is high, beyond His servants. Again, when it went down, he turned away from it and said, “I do not love the low ones, for they are not worthy of Godhood.”
Here the lords of realization have voiced another intimation and have seen another subtle point. They say that from the first Abraham's dust was mixed with the water of bosom friendship, his secret core was burned with the fire of passion, his spirit was lit up with the love of eternity, and the ocean of passion was stirring up waves inside him. Then at dawn, at the moment of the morning draft of the passionate, the shouts of joy of the drunkards, and the uproar of those who have lost their hearts, he opened his eyes from the giddiness of the wine of bosom friendship and the drunkenness of passion and said, “This is my Lord.” This is as they say:
Your image has so taken my eyes
that wherever I look I fancy it's you.
Both drunkenness and passion are paths of trial and the basis of trouble.
Do you not see where passion by itself threw Joseph of Canaan, and what drunkenness by itself did to Moses of ʿImrān? In the case of Abraham, both were together. Why then is it strange that drunkenness and the uproar of heart-lostness should make him gaze on the moon and the stars and say, “This is my Lord”? This is exactly what they say about a drunkard-that he does not know what he is saying. If he did know, then how could he be drunk?
You said, “I'm drunk.” By my soul if you arehe who is drunk does not know drunkenness.
As for Abraham's being tried by the sacrifice of his child, that is because he gazed on the beauty of Ishmael and began to pay regard to him, for the sword of Ishmael's beauty wounded Abraham's heart. The command came, “O Bosom Friend! Did We preserve you from Azar and Azari idols so that you could gaze on the face of Ishmael? The stamp of bosom friendship with Me and glancing at others cannot be combined, whether you gaze at the Azari carvings or Ishmael's face.
Any talk that keeps you back from the road-let it be unbelief or faith.
Any picture that holds you back from the Friend-let it be ugly or beautiful. [DS 51]
It was not long before a sword was placed in his hand and it was said, “Sacrifice Ishmael, for two friends will not fit in one heart.”
With two kiblahs you can't walk straight on the road of tawḤīdeither the Friend's approval, or your own caprice. [DS 488]
In terms of the outward meaning, the story of the sacrifice is known and famous. Concerning the inward meaning and in the tongue of allusion, it has been said, “Cut off your heart's attachment to your child with the sword of truthfulness.” “Truthfulness is God's sword in His earth. He does not place it on anything without cutting it.”
Abraham heard the command and with the sword of truthfulness cut his heart off from his child. He separated love for Ishmael from his heart. The call came, “O Abraham, 'Thou hast been truthful to the vision' [37:105]. The tongue of the state was saying,
“I separated from creatures, sharpening my love for You.
And, mention, when his Lord tested, tried, Abraham (Ibrāhīm: also read Ibrāhām) with certain words, with certain commands and prohibitions with which He charged him: it is said that these included the rituals of the Pilgrimage, the rinsing of the mouth, snuffing up water into the nostrils [to clean them], cleaning of the teeth, trimming facial hair, combing of the hair, trimming the fingernails, shaving armpit and pubic hair, circumcision and washing one’s private parts after elimination; and he fulfilled them, he performed them thoroughly; He, God, exalted, said, to him: ‘I make you a leader, an exemplar in religion, for the people.’ Said he, ‘And of my seed?’, my progeny, make leaders [from among them]; He said, ‘My covenant, of leadership, shall not reach the evildoers’, the disbelievers from among them: this indicates that [the covenant] will reach only those who are not evildoers.
And when his Lord tested Abraham with certain words, that is, with the levels of spiritual concepts such as the heart, mysteries, the spirit, the hidden, Oneness, the states and the stations that are used to articulate these levels, such as submission, reliance, satisfaction and the sciences of these [levels], and he fulfilled them, by wayfaring to God and in God up to annihilation. He said, 'I am making you for the people a leader', through subsistence after annihilation and the return from the Truth to creatures, to lead them and guide them how to wayfare to Me so that they follow your lead and become guided. Said he, 'And of my seedḍ', in other words, and also make some of my descendants leaders. He said, some of them could be evildoers and 'My covenant shall not reach the evildoers', that is, they shall not be My viceregents and I shall not promise leadership to evildoers.
Allah is informing us of the honor of Ibrahim Al-Khalil, who He made an Imam for the people, and a model to be imitated, because of the way he conducted himself and adhered to Tawhid. This honor was given to Prophet Ibrahim when he adhered to Allah's decisions and prohibitions. This is why Allah said,
وَإِذِ ابْتَلَى إِبْرَهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِكَلِمَـتٍ
(And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrahim (i.e., Allah) tried him with (certain) commands).
This Ayah means, O Muhammad! Remind the idolators and the People of the Scriptures, who pretend to be followers of the religion of Ibrahim, while in reality they do not follow it, while you, O Muhammad, and your followers are the true followers of his religion; remind them of the commands and prohibitions that Allah tested Ibrahim with.
(which he fulfilled.) indicating that Ibrahim implemented all of Allah's orders. Allah said in another Ayah,
وَإِبْرَهِيمَ الَّذِى وَفَّى
(And of Ibrahim (Abraham) who fulfilled (or conveyed) all that (Allah ordered him to do or convey)) (53:37)
meaning, he was truthful and he was obedient to Allah's legislation. Also, Allah said,
(Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah (or a nation), obedient to Allah, Hanif (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not one of those who were Al-Mushrikin (polytheists), (He was) thankful for His (Allah's) favors. He (Allah) chose him and guided him to a straight path. And We gave him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he shall be of the righteous. Then, We have sent the revelation to you (O Muhammad saying): "Follow the religion of Ibrahim Hanif (Islamic Monotheism ـ to worship none but Allah) and he was not of the Mushrikin.) (16:120-123)
(Say (O Muhammad ): "Truly, my Lord has guided me to a straight path, a right religion, the religion of Ibrahim, Hanifan, and Ibrahim (to worship none but Allah, alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin.'') (6:161) and,
(Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism ـ to worship none but Allah alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin. Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad ) and those who have believed (Muslims). And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers) (3:67-68).
(with Kalimat (words)) which means, "Laws, commandments and prohibitions.'' `Words' as mentioned here, sometimes refers to what Allah has willed, such as Allah's statement about Maryam,
(And she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and (also believed in) His Scriptures, and she was of the Qanitin (i.e. obedient to Allah)) (66:12).
"Words'' also refers to Allah's Law, such as Allah's statement,
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقاً وَعَدْلاً
(And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice) (6:115) meaning, His legislation. "Words'' also means truthful news, or a just commandment or prohibition. For instance, Allah said,
(And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrahim tried him with (certain) Words (commands), which he fulfilled) meaning, he adhered to them, Allah said,
إِنِّى جَـعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا
("Verily, I am going to make you an Imam (a leader) for mankind (to follow you).'') as a reward for Ibrahim's good deeds, adhering to the commandments and avoiding the prohibitions. This is why Allah made Ibrahim a role model for the people, and an Imam whose conduct and path are imitated and followed.
What were the Words that Ibrahim was tested with
There is a difference of opinion over the words that Allah tested Ibrahim with. There are several opinions attributed to Ibn `Abbas. For instance, `Abdur-Razzaq said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah tested him with the rituals (of Hajj).'' Abu Ishaq reported the same. `Abdur-Razzaq also narrated that Ibn `Abbas said that,
وَإِذِ ابْتَلَى إِبْرَهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِكَلِمَـتٍ
(And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrahim (Abraham) (i.e., Allah) tried him with (certain) commands) means, "Allah tested him with Taharah (purity, ablution): five on the head and five on the body. As for the head, they are cutting the mustache, rinsing the mouth, inhaling and discarding water, using Siwak and parting the hair. As for the body, they are trimming the nails, shaving the pubic hair, circumcision and plucking under the arm and washing with water after answering the call of nature.'' Ibn Abi Hatim said, "A similar statement was also reported from Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi, An-Nakha`i, Abu Salih, Abu Al-Jald, and so forth.''
There is a similar statement that Imam Muslim narrated from `A'ishah who said that Allah's Messenger said,
(Ten are among the Fitrah (instinct, natural constitution): trimming the mustache, growing the beard, using Siwak, inhaling and then exhaling water (in ablution), cutting the nails, washing between the fingers (in ablution), plucking the underarm hair, shaving the pubic hair, washing with water after answering the call of nature, (and I forgot the tenth, I think it was) rinsing the mouth (in ablution).)
The Two Sahihs recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Prophet said,
(Five are among the acts of Fitrah: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, trimming the mustache, cutting the nails and plucking the underarm hair.) This is the wording with Muslim.
Muhammad bin Ishaq reportd that Ibn `Abbas said, "The words that Allah tested Ibrahim with, and that he implemented were: abandoning his (disbelieving) people when Allah commanded him to do so, disputing with Nimrod (king of Babylon) about Allah, being patient when he was thrown in the fire (although this was extremely traumatic) migrating from his homeland when Allah commanded him to do so, patience with the monetary and material demands of hosting guests by Allah's command, and Allah's order for him to slaughter his son. When Allah tested Ibrahim with these words, and he was ready for the major test, Allah said to him,
أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ
("Submit (be a Muslim)!'' He said, "I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of all that exists. '') (2:131) although this meant defying and being apart from the people.''
The Unjust do not qualify for Allah's Promise
Allah said that Ibrahim said,
(And of my offspring (to make leaders)) and Allah replied,
لاَ يَنَالُ عَهْدِي الظَّـلِمِينَ
(My covenant (prophethood) includes not Zalimin (polytheists and wrongdoers)).
When Allah made Ibrahim an Imam (Leader for the faithful), he asked Allah that Imams thereafter be chosen from his offspring. Allah accepted his supplication, but told him that there will be unjust people among his offspring and they will not benefit from Allah's promise. Thus, they will neither become Imams nor be imitated (for they will not be righteous). The proof that Ibrahim's supplication to Allah was accepted is that Allah said in Surat Al-`Ankabut (29:27),
(And We ordained among his offspring prophethood and the Book).
Hence, every Prophet whom Allah sent after Ibrahim were from among his offspring, and every Book that Allah revealed was to them. As for Allah's statement,
قَالَ لاَ يَنَالُ عَهْدِي الظَّـلِمِينَ
((Allah) said, "My covenant (prophethood) includes not Zalimin (polytheists and wrongdoers). '')
Allah mentioned that there are unjust people among the offspring of Ibrahim, and they will not benefit from Allah's promise, nor would they be entrusted with anything, even though they are among the children of Allah's Khalil (intimate friend, Prophet Abraham). There will also be those who do good among the children of Ibrahim, and these it is who will benefit from Ibrahim's supplication. Ibn Jarir said that this Ayah indicated that the unjust shall not be Imams for the people. Moreover, the Ayah informed Ibrahim that there will be unjust people among his offspring. Also, Ibn Khuwayz Mindad Al-Maliki said, "The unjust person does not qualify to be a Khalifah, a ruler, one who gives religious verdicts, a witness, or even a narrator (of Hadiths).''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
At different places the Qur'an has described in detail the hard test to which Abraham was put before he was made the leader and guide of mankind. When he passed successfully through all those trials and proved himself fit and capable of performing this great responsibility, he was exalted to this high position. Ever since the Truth was revealed to him, his whole life was a series of sacrifices in its cause. He sacrificed everything which is valued in life, and encountered every kind of danger in the way of Truth.
That is, "This promise shall apply only to those of your descendants who will be good and capable, and not to those who will be transgressors." Thus, obviously, the misguided children of Israel and the idolatrous children of Ishmael were not entitled to this promise.
And when his Lord tested Abraham with certain words and he fulfilled them The trial al-balāÌ is the verification of friendship walāÌ and the most sincere in friendship are tested the most. The Real سبحانه tested His friend khalīl عليه السلام by what He imposed on him and prescribed for him and [Abraham] upheld the necessary conditions and fulfilled the requirements decreed. So He سبحانه praised him saying “And Abraham who fulfilled waffā” [53:37] [which is] from tawfiyathat is he did not fall short in any way whatsoever. It is said that [God] imposed the burdens of prophecy on [Abraham] and sought from him the properties of friendship khulla. The most intense trial for him was upholding the conditions of friendship and being singled out to avoid everyone and everything. He performed what was necessary to fulfill this [obligation] withdrawing from everything other than [God] secretly and publicly. Because of that [Abraham] paid no attention to Gabriel عليه السلام when he appeared to [Abraham] as he was being thrown into the depths of destruction. [Gabriel] said “Do you need anythingḍ” [Abraham] said “From youḍ No.” Gabriel عليه السلام appeared to him in this state as part of the perfection of his trial. What [attachments] were left in him that would leave a place for any created being whoever that might beḍ This is a subtle allusion to the difference between the state of our Prophet ﷺ and the state of Abraham عليه السلام because Gabriel appeared to the friend and showed himself to him and [Abraham] said “From youḍ No.” But Gabriel was not capable of companionship with the Prophet ﷺ and thus expressed his weakness saying “If I were to come closer [to you by even] so much as a fingertip I would be consumed by fire.” What a difference between the state in which Gabriel عليه السلام has the power to show himself to the Friend عليه السلام and the state in which he acknowledges his weakness before the Beloved ﷺ. He said “I make you a leader imām for the people.” Said he “And of my seedḍ” He said “My covenant shall not reach the evildoers.” The leader imām is the one to be emulated. This was confirmed with regard to [Abraham] in that [God] told all men up to the Day of the Resurrection to emulate him.
He said “The creed of your father Abraham [is yours]” [22:78] that is they followed the creed of Abraham meaning the declaration of God's unity tawḥīd. [God's] saying “Take to yourselves Abraham's station for a place of prayer” [2:125] is verification of this leadership imāma. The station of leadership [means] that one understands from the Real and then gives that understanding to created beings so as to be a mediator between the Real ḥaqq and created beings khalq. In his outward situation he is with created beings and is not listless in conveying the message. In his inner situation he witnesses the Real. The clarity of his state does not waver and he says to mankind what the Real says to him. “And of my seedḍ”: [Abraham] spoke out of compassion for [his people] and he asked for that which would bring them honor but [God] informed him that worthiness has nothing to do with lineage or relations. Rather these are allotments that [God's] decrees bring about and He said to him “My covenant shall not reach the evildoers.” This is not like the blessings of this world which are all encompassing in their provisions for it is not withheld from anyone even if he is a disbeliever. Because of that He said “And when Abraham said 'My Lord make this land secure and provide its people with fruits; such of them as believe in God...'”[2:126] and “whoever disbelieves to him I shall give enjoyment a little...” [2:126]. This means that the present world is not so important that it should be denied the disbelievers. But “My covenant will only reach those whom I have chosen from the elect of My servants.” Food and drink are not kept from anyone ammā l-Ṭaʿām wa-l-sharāb fa-ghayru mamnūʿin min aḥad but Islam and love are not offered to everyone ammā l-islām wa-l-maḥābb fa-ghayru mabdhūlin li-kulli aḥad.