LEADING THE CHANGE
Lessons from the Seera
Sheikh Mohammad Al Hilali, Lecturer of Islamic American University
Mecca and Kaaba
Prophet Ibrahim was the founding father, and it all began nearly four thousand years ago, in the Sumerian town of Ur in the valley of the river Euphrates, lived a young man named Ibrahim. The people of Ur had once worshipped Allah but as time passed they forgot the true religion and started praying to idols, statues made of wood or clay and sometimes even of precious stones.
Even as a small child Abraham could not understand how his people, and especially his father, could make these images with their own hands, call them gods, and then worship them. He had always refused to join his people when they paid respect to these statues. Instead he would leave the town and sit alone,
thinking about the heavens and the world about him. He was sure his people were doing wrong and so alone he searched for the right way.
One clear night as he sat staring at the sky he saw a beautiful shining star, so beautiful that he cried out: ‘This must be Allah!’ He looked at it in awe for some time, until suddenly it began to fade and then it disappeared. He turned away in disappointment saying: / love not things that set Quran (6: 77)
On another night Ibraham was again looking at the sky and he saw the rising moon, so big and bright that he felt he could almost touch it. He thought to himself: This is my Lord. Quran 6: 78)
But it was not long before the moon set as well. Then he said, Unless my Lord guides me, I surely shall become one of the folk who are astray. Quran (6: 78)
Ibrahim then saw the beauty and splendor of the sunrise and decided that the sun must be the biggest and most powerful thing in the universe. But for the third time he was wrong, for the sun set at the end of the day. It was then that he realized that Allah is the Most Powerful, the Creator of the stars, the moon, the sun, the earth and of all living things. Suddenly he felt himself totally at peace, because he knew that he had found the Truth.
One day, while all the townspeople were out, Abraham angrily smashed all the idols with his right hand except for one which was very large. When the people returned they were furious. They remembered the things Abraham had said about the idols. They had him brought forth before everyone and demanded, ‘Is it you who did this to our gods, O Abraham?’ Abraham replied, But this their chief did it. Ask them, if they are able to speak.’ The people exclaimed, ‘You know they do not speak.’ ‘Do you worship what you yourselves have carved when Allah created you and what you make?’ Abraham continued, ‘Do you worship instead of Allah that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?’
Finally, Abraham warned them,