The Way of Truth
Study 7: Allah’s Grace to Prophet Ibrahim
In the last lesson we looked at Allah’s grace to various people at various times. We saw that when men could not keep Allah’s law, Allah in his love and mercy made special grace arrangements for them so that they could survive. In this study we shall be looking at Allah’s special grace arrangement for one man–Ibrahim, the friend of Allah. We shall also see how the grace of Ibrahim extends down even to us.
Allah promises to bless Prophet Ibrahim and through him to bless all nations
We see in the Taurat that Ibrahim (pbuh) was born and grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, or modern-day Iraq. His father then moved to Haran and stayed there until his death. After the death of his father, Terah (also known as Azhar), Allah commanded Ibrahim,
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
This was indeed a beautiful promise. Allah promised to make Ibrahim into a great nation. At this time Ibrahim had no children so it was a very amazing promise. Allah also promised to make his name great. Yet, this blessing was not just for Ibrahim. Allah promised that through Ibrahim, through Ibrahim’s family, Allah would bless all men. Ibrahim’s blessing would extend down to all men. Ibrahim had faith in Allah’s promise and was obedient to him. Ibrahim went where Allah wanted him to go and eventually came to the land of Canaan, which was the land Allah had promised to him.
Prophet Ibrahim believes Allah’s promise
Ibrahim (pbuh) believed Allah’s promised that his descendants would be a great nation. This required much faith because his wife Sarah was barren. After many years had passed and they still had no children Sarah decided it was time to do something. Sarah took her servant Hajira (Hagar) and gave her to Ibrahim to be his second wife. She soon conceived and gave birth to a baby whom they called Ismail. However, Allah appeared again to Ibrahim and repeated his previous promise to Ibrahim. He also added that the promise would be fulfilled through a son to be born to Sarah. Both Ibrahim and Sarah could hardly believe this because at that time Ibrahim was almost 100 years old and Sarah nearly 90. Sarah was not only barren but was now too old to bear children. Yet, Allah assured Ibrahim it would happen as he said and gave as a sign of their covenant the act of circumcision. Thus, Ibrahim at 99 years of age was circumcised and had all the males of his family circumcised. From that time on the family of Ibrahim has always practiced circumcision as the sign of this covenant.
Allah fulfills the first part of his promise
Allah’s promise soon came true and Sarah conceived and bore a child. It was a baby boy whom they named Ishaq. It was through this son that Allah’s promise to Ibrahim was to come true. Allah also blessed Ismail and promised to make a great nation out of him and his descendants. As it is written in the Taurat,
Then Allah said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Ishaq. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ismail, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Ishaq, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” When he had finished speaking with Ibrahim, Allah went up from him. (Genesis 17:19- 22)
However, Allah’s promise to bless Ibrahim and to bless all nations through him was to be fulfilled through Prophet Ishaq (pbuh). We can now look back after almost 4000 years have passed and see how Allah’s promise has come true. Prophet Ishaq became the father of Prophet Yaqub who in turn became the father of 12 sons, among them Prophet Yusuf (pbuh). Each of these 12 sons became the head of a tribe. By the time of the prophet Musa we see that these 12 tribes had increased into a huge nation. In the remainder of the Taurat, in the Zabur and in the Injil we see how this large nation continued to grow and to spread out and settle in all parts of the world.
Allah fulfills the second part of his promise
We thus see that the first part of Allah’s promise to Ibrahim has already been fulfilled. However, what about the second part of the blessing? Got also said that through Ibrahim seed all the nations on earth would be blessed. How are we to understand this? As an aid to our understanding let us go back to a previous promise Allah made that we saw in lesson 3. As you remember, when Adam and Hawa sinned Allah’s curse fell on them. Yet, Allah did not leave them in despair. He promised that through one of Hawa’s descendants Satan and the effects of Satan’s work would be destroyed. We see that the promise to Ibrahim is really just a continuation of Allah’s earlier promise to Hawa. Allah had simply narrowed down to choices at the time of Ibrahim from any one of Hawa’s descendants to only one of the descendants of Ishaq. Thus, at the time of Ibrahim Allah promised to destroy Satan and his works and to bless the people of all nations through one of the descendants of Ishaq.
What a wonderful promise Allah gave Ibrahim. In the last lesson all the grace arrangements we saw were limited in time and extent. However, Allah’s blessing and promise of grace to Ibrahim was for all men. It was for you and me. Thus, we see it is very important that we understand how we can obtain the blessing of Ibrahim. We shall examine in future lessons who it was in the line of Ibrahim and Ishaq who fulfilled this promise. We shall conclude this lesson by looking at how we can become partakers in the blessing of Ibrahim.
Let us see what the Taurat has to say about this. It is written,
[Ibrahim] believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
This agrees perfectly with what is written in the Injil,
What then shall we say that Ibrahim, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Ibrahim was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before Allah. What does the Scripture say? “Ibrahim believed Allah, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts Allah who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
It was not through law that Ibrahim and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Ibrahim’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Ibrahim. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of Allah, in whom he believed–the Allah who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Ibrahim in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of Allah, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to Allah, being fully persuaded that Allah had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom Allah will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Isa our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4: 1-5, 13-25)
It is clear from these passages that Ibrahim was justified before Allah and received Allah’s grace in exactly the same way as did all those in the previous lesson. Allah promised to bless Ibrahim and that Ibrahim would receive Allah’s grace to an unusual degree. Ibrahim’s response was identical to what we have seen for Prophet Nuh, Lut, and those in Musa and Yunus’ day. Ibrahim had faith in Allah and his promise. He did not doubt or reject Allah’s promise or blessings and grace. By faith he accepted. Thus, because of his faith and willingness to accept Allah’s blessing and grace Ibrahim was considered righteous in Allah’s eyes and was given the name Khalilullah– “Friend of Allah”.
1. Where was Prophet Ibrahim born?
2. What was the blessing Allah promised to Ibrahim?
3. What was Ibrahim’s response to Allah?
A. By faith he obeyed and went to the land of Canaan.
B. By faith he obeyed and stayed in Ur of the Chaldees.
C. Through disbelief he disobeyed Allah.
4. Why was it difficult for Sarah to believe Allah’s promise that she would have a son?
5. When Sarah’s faith grew weak what did she do?
A. She told Ibrahim to adopt a son
B. She told Ibrahim to take her servant girl Hajira as his wife
C. She told Ibrahim he would never have a son
6. How old was Ibrahim when his son Ishaq was born?
7. Who was Allah’s blessing to Ibrahim available to?
A. All men
B. Those of the descendants of Ibrahim
C. Ibrahim only
8. Was Ibrahim circumcised before or after the promise was given to him?
9. What similarity was there between Ibrahim’s response to Allah’s offer of grace and those examples we studied in lesson 6?
A. They all kept the law perfectly
B. They all in faith promised to obey in the future
C. They all in faith accepted Allah’s grace
10. How would you explain the verse in the Taurat (Genesis 15:6), where it says Ibrahim ” believed the Lord, and he credited to him as righteousness.”?