Wednesday, November 4, 2020

We Sent Two Messengers But They Rejected Both. Then We Reinforced Them With A Third.

In Surah Yaseen verses 13-14, Quran mentions about two prophets being sent with a mission to a certain city.  But these two prophets were rejected by the people in that city.  So Allah strengthened these two prophets with a third.

The above occurence is not a special case.  Multiple prophets being sent together is quite common in the story of prophethood.  Even among the 25 prophets that we have to know, there were many occasions whereby more than one prophets lived together in the same era.

Below is the list of 25 prophets and their placement in the list. 

1.       Adam

2.        Idris

3        Nuh

4        Hud

5        Saleh

6        Ibrahim

7        Lut

8        Ismail

9        Ishaq

10.     Yaakob

11.     Yusuf

12.     Ayyub

13.     Shuaib

14.     Musa

15.     Har┼źn

16.     DhulKifli

17.     Dawood

18.     Sulaiman

19.     Ilyas

20.     al-Yasa

21.     Yunus

22.     Zakariya

23.     Yahya

24.     'Isa

25.     Muhammad

Let’s analyze the above list. 

The Bible says that when Enoch (Nabi Idris) was born, Prophet Adam was still alive, although they were separated by a few generations.  Prophet Idris was born when Prophet Adam was 622 years old. 

We know that as long as Prophet Adam was still alive, and he being the father of all human beings at that time, there was no issue about people worshiping false gods.  This is because all of his children, grandchildren, etc., believed in the tawhid brought by him.  Why did Allah send Prophet Idris then?

Prophet Idris was sent to usher in a new era for mankind.  He came to teach people writing, reading, counting (arithmetic), taming horses and astronomy.  This tells us that prophets did not only teach tawhid, but practical knowledge for better living as well.  This might be a better explanation why Prophet Idris was sent.  It is unlikely that he was sent to strengthen Prophet Adam.

Whatever the case may be, it is clear that multiple prophets are sent simultaneously since the beginning, that is, since Prophet Adam was still alive.

After Prophet Idris, those prophets in the list, namely Noah, Hud and Shalih, did not live in the same era.  Starting with Prophet Abraham, however, we find that five prophets lived at the same time.  They are Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob.

Prophet Abraham (Nabi Ibrahim) is number six in the list.  The seventh prophet in the list is Prophet Lot.  He was the nephew of Prophet Abraham, and was slightly younger than Abraham, around 16 years according to Bible commentary.  He lived together with Prophet Abraham until he moved to the town of Sodom and Gomorrah.

After Lot came Prophet Ishmael, who is number eight in the list.  He was the first son of Abraham, through Prophet Abraham’s second wife, Hagar.  He was born when Abraham was around 86 years old. 

Then came Prophet Isaac (Nabi Ishak), number nine in the list.  He was the second son of Abraham, but from his first wife, Sarah.  He was born when Abraham was around 100 years old, and Sarah about 90 years old.   

We can say that the birth of Isaac is no less miraculous than the birth of Jesus.  While Jesus was born from a virgin mother, Isaac was born from a mother who was not only barren but already way pass her menopause stage.   That is why Sarah, the mother of Isaac, was as surprise as Mary, the mother of Jesus, when the news about her getting pregnant was relayed to her.  Sarah was surprised because she was barren and already way pass menopause; Mary was surprise because she was a virgin and no man has touched her.

After Isaac came Jacob (Nabi Yaakob), number ten in the list.  He was the son of Isaac, hence the grandson of Abraham.  He was born when Isaac was around 60 years old, and Abraham was around 160 years old.  Since Abraham lived for about 175 years, we know that Jacob was born 15 years before Abraham died.

The prophet who came after Jacob was Joseph (Nabi Yusuf).  He is number eleven in the list of 25 prophets.  He was the son of Prophet Jacob.  He was born when Jacob was around 86 years old.  Joseph had 10 older brothers and one younger brother as Prophet Jacob had twelve sons.  Joseph was the great grandson of Abraham, but when Joseph was born, Prophet Abraham had died already.  

Here we see that all those five prophets who came after Abraham, and included in the list of 25 prophets, are directly related to him.  Two of them were his sons (Ishmael and Isaac), one of them was his nephew (Lot), one of them was his  grandson (Jacob), the remaining one was his great grandson (Joseph). 

With regard to the prophets being sent together with Prophet Abraham, it is not so much to strengthen him, but rather to continue his mission especially after he died.   

Another great prophet surrounded with other prophets during his time was Moses (Nabi Musa), who is number 14 in the list.  Like many other prophets in the list, he was the descendant of Prophet Abraham, through Prophet Jacob.  Prophet Jacob is also known as Israel.  Hence, the people known as Israelites are his descendants.

When Prophet Moses was born, the Israelites or the Children of Israel lived in Egypt.  At that time, they were enslaved by the ruler of Egypt, known as Pharaoh.  Moses grew up in the Palace of Pharaoh, but was forced to flee Egypt later on when he had accidentally killed an Egyptian in a fight.    

Eventually Prophet Moses had to come back to Egypt when Allah commanded him to face Pharaoh.  His task was to invite  Pharaoh to tawhid, as well as to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Pharaoh.   

As Moses was a run-away fugitive, and belonged to the nation enslaved by Pharaoh, it is natural that he was apprehensive to face the mighty Pharaoh.  Like King Nimrod during Prophet Abraham’s era, Pharaoh also considered himself a god and his subjects worshiped him.  Moses therefore asked Allah to send his older brother, Aaron, to strengthen him.  So Aaron (Prophet Harun), number 15 in the list, was also made a prophet to strengthen Moses.   

Allah also sent another prophet to strengthen Moses.  His name is Joshua (Nabi Yusha).  Joshua is considered a prophet although not listed in the list of 25 prophets.  Like the story in the the Surah Yaseen mentions above, Aaron and Joshua were made prophets to strengthen Prophet Moses.

Then there was Prophet David (Nabi Dawood/Daud), or more popularly known as King David in Biblical narrative, as he was the king of the Kingdom of Israel.  He is number 17 in the list. He has many sons, and one of them, named Solomon, was also a prophet.  Prophet or King Solomon (Nabi Sulaiman), number 18 in the list, continued the work and ruled the kingdom established by his father, making it great, powerful and respected.

After them we have Prophet Elijah (Nabi Ilyas), number 19 in the list.  He has a disciple known as Elisha (Nabi al-Yasa), who is also a prophet.  Prophet Elisha, number 20 in the list, was sent to strengthen Prophet Elijah, as well as to continue the mission after the death of Prophet Elijah.  Or, accoding to Bible, after Prophet Elijah was raised to heaven riding the Chariot of Fire.  

Finally, when Jesus (Nabi Isa) was born, there were already two prophets who lived  in the area.  The first was an old prophet named Zechariah (Nabi Zakaria), number 22 in the list.  The second was a boy about three years old who, like Jesus, would grow up and become a prophet.  The boy name was John.  As an adult, he was known as John the Baptist (Nabi Yahya), number 23 in the list.  He was the son of Prophet Zechariah. 

These two prophets are related to Jesus (Nabi Isa).  Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the niece of Elizabeth.   As Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist, he is therefore a cousin to Mary.  This makes John the Baptist the cousin of Jesus as well; or more properly, the mother’s cousin.  And Prophet Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth, is Jesus’ grand uncle in law.

Jesus, number 24 in the list, was not sent to strengthen Prophet Zechariah or John the Baptist.  Rather, both of these older prophets were sent to pave the way for Jesus, who was to carry greater mission. 

Prophet Muhammad, number 25 in the list and being the last prophet, was not strengthened by any prophet, but by his illustrious companions.  But, just as Prophet Zechariah and John the Baptist were sent to prepare the way for Jesus, we can say that all other prophets were sent to pave the way for the last brick in the House of Prophethood, the Seal of Prophet, Muhammad S.A.W.

The Way Of Abraham Is Rational And Based On Sound Reason

In the previous installment, we have seen that Islam owes its concept of tawhid and idolatry to Prophet Abraham.  In fact, Prophet Abraham is not only revered by Islam.  Judaism and Christianity revere as well.  All these major religions claim their origin to him.

All prophets brought similar message, but Prophet Abraham is more revered than others because he brought it in a more complete, rational and pure form.  For this, Allah singles him out as “hanifa.”  No other prophet either before or after him receives that honor. 

While all prophets brought similar message, each of them tends to have different focus and significance.  For instance, the significance of the story of Prophet Adam is mankind’s role as the khalifah on earth.  Through his story, we learn about mankind special characteristic as well as worst features, and we also learn that Iblis and the devils will always work to lead people astray so that mankind will also be condemned like them.

From Prophet Noah, we learn that the true savior is faith (iman).  Even the wife of Prophet Noah was drowned in the Great Flood because she disbelieved in Allah.  One of his sons was also drowned.  A few others who were not his direct family members were saved because they believed in him. 

We have not discussed other prophets such as Jonah and Job, but it is proper to mention a few words about them here.

The significance of the story about Prophet Jonah (Nabi Yunus) is that we have to remain consistent and persistence in our faith and struggle although we may not succeed in our task.  Prophet Jonah was greatly disappointed when no one listened to him after spreading the message for so long.  In disgust, he ran away, leaving his people behind.  Allah taught him a lesson by sending a whale or a great fish to swallow him.  In the belly of the great fish, he realized his error.  He repented and Allah saved him.

The significance of the story about Prophet Job (Nabi Ayub) is that he remained patient despite great afflictions.  He was a rich man.  Then he was afflicted with terrible disease.  Later, his house collapsed, killing all his children.  Next, he lost all his wealth. Finally, his wife left him when she could not take it anymore.  When he lost everything—his wealth, his children, his wife, his health—satan came whispering.  All satan wanted was for him to complain--how come Allah put him in such a terrible and pathetic state when he had done nothing wrong.  Yet, he remained true to his faith and accepted what Allah had put him into without slightest complaint.  Then Allah restored his health and his wealth, and his wife also came back to him after realizing her undutiful behavior.

As for Prophet Abraham, other than making clear the concept and practice of idolatry, his life also taught us that the religion sent by Allah is rational, and that it should be spread with sound and rational argument. 

By rational, we mean that it is easy to be digested by intellect, can be understood easily, can be proven, and the mind can accept it readily.  It is not based on superstition or mystical belief.  It is also not based on speculation or fanciful assumption. 

Prophet Abraham rejected idolatry ever since he was a boy.  As we learn earlier, his father was an idol maker.  He saw his father was making idols from stone or wood, then sold these idols to people, and people worship these idols.  To him, this act did not make sense at all.  When he asked why they worship these idols, he was told that these are the gods of their forefathers.  

The boy Abraham cannot accept that justification.  He knew that his father was in fact better than these idols.  After all, it was his father who made them.  At least his father can talk, can listen, can see and can defend himself should he get attacked.  The idols made by his father were just dumb stones that cannot talk, cannot listen, cannot see and cannot defend themselves.  

So, the boy Abraham concluded that these idols cannot be real God.  Then he started thinking and searching for the real God.  He looked for something that is worthy to be considered as God. 

He saw people taking their great king as god.  He thought that the king is more worthy to be a god than a stone made by his father.  But then he realized that the king also got sick and die.  And the king also ate and slept like him.  So he concluded that the real God cannot be like that. 

Then he observed that some people took the sun to be the god.  He thought the sun was great.  It lighted the whole world.  Without the sun, nothing can survive.  Then he thought the sun is more worthy to be a god than the stone made by his father, and more worthy than the king that people worshiped as god.  But soon he realized that the sun has the habit of appearing in the morning but disappearing in the evening.  He realized that the sun is working not on its own free will, but someone or something else is making it appears in the morning and disappear in the evening.  He concluded that the real God should not be like that.

This process went on and on.  At long last, he realized that the real God must be above everything that people take as gods.   As his father made those idols, there must also be the Creator that made every object that people worship.  He must be the one who created the trees and stones that people cut to make the idols.  He must be the one who made the sun rises in the morning and sets it down in the evening.  He must be the one who made the stars, the moon, the planets and everything in the sky, and the one who ensured that these celestial bodies do not crash into one another.  In short, the real God must be the Creator of the earth, the heaven, and everything in the whole universe. 

From this, we can see that his approach is rational and based on reason.  It was after long observation and deep soul searching that he realized that all the gods worshiped by people during his time were false gods.  It was probably by then that the revelation started to come to him, and he started to teach people about the real God.

Quran tells the story that, after preaching for many years but people still refused to listen, Prophet Abraham decided to teach them by practical example.  So, during a great festivity, he sneaked into a temple carrying an axe.  No one was in the temple as even the priests were attending the great festivity.

Once inside, he smashed all the idols with his axe, except the largest one.  He then put the axe in the hand of the largest idol that he did not smash.  Then he quietly went home as if nothing happened. 

There was great commotion when the priests discovered the idols were being smashed.  It was not long before people started to gather in front of the temple.  They thought the horrible deed must have been perpetrated by a young man named Abraham, as he had been against idol worshiping all along.

So they arrested and brought him to the large gathering in front of the temple.  Their idea was to force him to confess.  Instead of confessing, Prophet Abraham pointed to the largest idol and said: “Go and ask him. The axe is in his hand.” 

Angry, and unaware that it was a trap by Abraham, they said: “You know well that they cannot speak.”  And Abraham quickly replied: “Yet, you take them to be your gods, knowing full well they cannot speak, cannot see, cannot do any harm or any good, cannot benefit you, and cannot even defend themselves.”

Furious, they made a huge bonfire and threw him inside the inferno.  But Allah made the fire cool for him and he was saved. 

The news that a young man named Abraham was saved from raging fire had reached the great king named Nimrod.  He was the most powerful king at that time and controlled all the food supply.  Because of that, people worshiped him as god.  The king Nimrod summoned Abraham to come to his court. 

Abraham refused to recognize the king Nimrod as god, saying the real God gives and takes life.  Nimrod arrogantly replied: “I also give and take life.”  

To prove his claim, Nimrod pardoned a man who was already condemned with death sentence, and ordered an innocent man to be killed.  Then the king Nimrod said: “This man is already condemned with death sentence and about to be executed.  He is as good as dead, but I make him alive again.  And the other man has done nothing wrong, but I just took his life.  So I give and take life.”

The king Nimrod thought that he had won the debate, but Abraham then said: “My God raises the sun from the East and sets it at the West.  Now I challenge your majesty to make it rises from the West and sets it at the East.”

It is sufficient to say that the king Nimrod was angry because he cannot answer that challenge. 

Here, we briefly highlight a few episodes in the life of Prophet Abraham to serve as examples that the true religion is rational and based on sound reason.  The Western people define religion as a set of beliefs and rituals.  This definition is very narrow. Islam simply calls it “Deen,” which means a way of life.  Not only that the religion (Deen) sent by Allah is rational, but it is also comprehensive, because religion in Islam is a way of life, and it includes everything that has to do with our lives.    The deen of Islam (or Islamic religion) is not confined to matters of faith and ritual alone.

The way of life as intended by Allah did not come to fruition in the large scale during Prophet Abraham’s time, as he had only a few followers, and did not manage to establish a state.  Such way of life was accomplished by his descendants, first through the line of his son with Sarah, and finally through the line of his son with Hagar. 

From his son with Sarah, named Isaac, come a nation known as Israel, and from his son with Hagar, named Ishmael, come a nation known as Arab.  The nation of Israel carried the religion of Abraham which was later known as Judaism, then branched out into another religion known as Christianity; while the nation of Arab carried the final and complete religion of Abraham known as Islam.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Prophet Abraham is not only revered in Islam, but in Judaism and Christianity as well.  We can say that many of the bricks in the House of Prophethood were his descendants, with Prophet Muhammad being the last brick.  After all, Abraham is known as the Father of prophets.

Monday, October 5, 2020

In The Way Of Abraham The Hanifa, Idolatry Is Made Clear

During Prophet Adam, there was no issue about people worshiping false gods. Adam was the first man. The rest of the people during his time were all his children. He taught them about tawhid and they followed him. The problems he faced during his time was not about faith, but about behavior. For instance, his second son, Cain, had killed his first son, Abel, due to jealousy. Although Cain had done terrible crime, he still believed in Allah, the One God. It was his behavior which is bad.

Then came Prophet Idris. During his time, there was not much problem with the faith either. People during his time still worshiped the One true God. It was when Prophet Idris died that people started to take false gods beside Allah.

Next came Prophet Noah. During his time, people had already forgotten about the One true God or tawhid. All of them were involved in idol worship. Prophet Noah spent many hundreds years to convince the people to worship only Allah. But he was not very successful. As a result, Allah sent great flood and drowned all disbelievers.

Then the correct faith was restored, because only the believers in the big ship were saved from getting drowned in the Great Flood. When the children of Prophet Noah multiplied, they spread all over the world. Gradually people forgot about the tawhid and started to worship false gods again.

When Prophet Hud and Prophet Shalih were sent to their respective tribes, the people were already indulging in the worship of false gods. And, as we have learned from previous lesson, Allah destroyed all these disbelievers.

After that Prophet Abraham came, along with his nephew, Prophet Lot. Like the previous generations, the people during Prophet Abraham also worshiped false gods.

But there is one important difference between Prophet Abraham’s period and the period before him. By the time Prophet Abraham came, human beings have started to record things, including the events and people involved. For that reason, we have more knowledge about the time of Prophet Abraham as compared to those prophets who came before him.

Prophet Abraham’s story is not only available in the Bible and the Quran, but also in historical books. Therefore, we can say that the prophets who came before Prophet Abraham had lived during prehistoric time, that is, the period when no history is recorded. Abraham is the first prophet who lived in historic era.

Most scholars say that Prophet Abraham was born about 4,000 years ago. When he was born, people had already forgotten about tawhid. All of them were idol worshipers.

We do not know much about the nature of idol worshiping during the time of Noah, Hud or Shalih, except that they made statues from stones, woods, etc., and they worshiped these statues/idols.

By the time of Abraham, we know much more about the nature and characteristic of idol worshiping, because he had encountered not only with one type of idolatry (idol worship), but many kinds.

The first type of idolatry is similar to the people of Noah, Hud and Shalih. This is the type of idols made of stones, woods, etc., to represent gods, and they worship these idols.

The second type of idolatry is taking people as gods. Usually these people are their kings, and they worship these kings.

The third type of idolatry is taking celestial or heavenly bodies as gods. These celestial bodies may be moon, sun, stars or spirit. And they worship these celestial bodies.

From this, Islam says that idolatry or idol worshiping is not just about bowing down to idols, like what the Hindus are still doing until now. It is also not just about worshiping the stars, the sun, the moon or the spirit. It means, if we idolize, worship, or revere anything other than one true God, then all of these are idolatry or idol worshiping. They are the type of idolatry that come in different forms.

Therefore, if we revere or idolize people more than we should, then it is a form of idolatry forbidden in Islam. If we idolize money, power or wealth more than what is considered proper, this is also a form of idolatry. If we idolize a particular idea or ideology more than necessary, such as saying capitalism, communism, socialism etc are better than Islam, this is also a form of idolatry. Even if we say that Islam is no longer fashionable, or Islamic syariah (Islamic Law) is outdated and no longer relevant to the modern world, this is also a type of idolatry.

From the story of Prophet Abraham, the concept of tawhid is made clear. This is because we are informed about his encounter with various types of people who did not actually bow down to idols made of stones or woods. Yet, they were also considered as idolaters. He rejected all of them and continue with his upright way. The upright way is called “hanifa” in the Quran.

In Islam, the word used for idolatry is “syirk.” “Syirk” means associate. The people of Makkah before their conversion to Islam were called “musyrikin.” “Musyrikin” means people who associate something with something else. They believed in Allah, but they also have other gods that they consider as the associates or the companions of Allah. These associates are their idols that they worship along with Allah.

Idolatry comes from the word “idol.” Idol is an image, an object, or something that people revere, salute, or worship. It can be the spirit, the moon, the sun, the ancestors, the people, the wealth, the power or the idea. Those who worship all these things are idolaters.

Here we have to make the distinction between the manifest and hidden idolatry. Manifest means clear or obvious. Manifest idolatry means the nature of this idolatry is clear and obvious. Hidden means unclear or not obvious. The nature of hidden idolatry is more difficult to detect.

The manifest idolatry refers to those who either reject Allah as the true God, or clearly associate other gods with Allah. Example of manifest or clear idolatry are the people in Makkah before they became Muslims. The believed in Allah, but along with Him, they also worship other gods. Currently, we may say the Hindus are the example of this type. The Hindus believe in the Supreme God although they do not call this as Allah, but they have thousands of other gods along with this Supreme God.

Those who do not believe in Allah at all but worship the spirit, the sun or anything that they consider as their god is another example of manifest idolatry.

Then there are a group of people who do not believe in the existence of God at all. They are known as atheists, and their belief is called atheism. Islam categorizes them as idolaters although they claim that they do not believe in any god. This is because they take their own thinking as their god. Atheism is another example of manifest idolatry.

The hidden idolaters are more complex, because it is less clear. These would include those who revere money, wealth, power, position or other people beyond what is right and reasonable.

For example, those who seek money for the sake of money, regardless whether it is acquired in the right or wrong way, where his mind is all the time obsessed with making money, and consider nothing else is more important, is an example of hidden idolatry. The distinction here is not whether one is rich or poor, because the rich may earn money in the right way and spend it rightly. The poor who are crazy about money, do not care how they earn it, whether halal or haram, and love money for money sake, could also be hidden idolater.

Prophet Abraham’s life provided this understanding. Our faith has to be pure and upright (hanifa). Quran mentions the word “hanifa” 12 times. Of that, eight times the word hanifa is associated with Prophet Abraham. He is the only prophet that the Quran associates with the word hanifa. In fact, Prophet Muhammad was asked to follow the upright way of Prophet Abraham, as in the Quran 16:123: Then, we revealed to you, “follow the way of Ibrahim, the upright, and he was not among the idolaters.”

Prophet Muhammad, the last of the prophet, or the last brick in the House of Prophethood, emulated the upright way (hanifa) of Prophet Abraham. From both of them, we learn the true meaning of tawhid.

Friday, August 21, 2020

I Hope That Allah Will Bring From Their Descendants People Who Will Worship Allah Alone

We have narrated that after spending hundreds of years calling people to tawhid without much success, Great Flood had been sent to drown all the disbelievers among the people of Noah.

Similar pattern can be seen with the subsequent prophets. After Noah, came Hud, Shalih, Abraham and Lot. Allah also destroyed the disbelievers among the people of these prophets. During Prophet Adam and Idris, who came before Prophet Noah, punishment like this did not happen.

When Prophet Noah did not know how else to convince his people to leave idol worshiping, Allah inspired to him that the hearts of his people were already sealed. Then Prophet Noah made doa, asking Allah to destroy them all. We can see this in the Quran chapter 71: verses 26-27:  "My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers on the earth. If you leave them, they will mislead Your slaves and they will beget none but wicked disbelievers."
And Allah granted his request.

After the great flood, the children of Prophet Noah started to multiply and spread all over the earth. One of his descendants was called Aad. He lived somewhere in the present day Yemen. His descendants became the people or the tribe of Aad. They worshiped the idols, so Allah sent a prophet among them named Hud.

After preaching for so many years without much success, Prophet Hud AS warned his people that if they do not believe in the One True God, he feared that Allah will punish them. Instead of taking his advice kindly, they mocked at him, calling him mad. Then Allah sent drought to them. Prophet Hud warned them, saying the drought is a warning that Allah is angry. If they repent, Allah will forgive and send them rain.

But, instead of believing in his warning, they mocked at Prophet Hud and became more stubborn. The drought increased, the trees turned yellow, and plants died. Then a day came when they found the sky full of clouds. The people were happy, thinking that the rain is coming. But it was not a rain. It was a storm that came to destroy everything. Only Hud and his followers remained unharmed.

Another of Noah’s descendant was called Thamud. He lived somewhere between north of Saudi Arabia and south of Jordan in the present day. His descendants became the people or the tribe of Thamud. Like the people of Aad, they also worshiped the idols, so Allah sent a prophet among them named Shalih.

Prophet Shalih was more successful as he had some followers. But, fearing that his followers would increase, the chiefs among his people then tried to discredit him. They asked him to perform a miracle. They said, if he can make a unique she-camel come out of a mountain rock, then they will believe in him.

Prophet Shalih then prayed to Allah to grant their request. Allah split the mountain rock and a great camel came out. The people were astounded with the wonderful event. Some people declared their belief, but most of them continued with their disbelief.

This camel did not only come out of the mountain rock miraculously. It was also a miraculous she-camel. She can produce more milk than all their camels combined. But she also drank a lot of water. When the she-camel drank, their well would run dry, so the people had to wait until tomorrow. They had to alternate between their day to use the well and the she-camel’s day. This situation made their leaders hated Shalih more. So they plotted a conspiracy. Offering great rewards and beautiful wives, they engaged some young men to kill the camel. And the camel was killed.

They celebrated the death of the miraculous camel but Prophet Shalih warned them: "Enjoy life for 3 more days then the punishment will descend upon you." Prophet Shalih was hoping they would repent, but instead of repenting, they mocked and challenged him: "Why three days? Let the punishment come as quickly as possible." Three days after the warning, thunderbolts filled the air, followed by severe earthquakes which destroyed the entire tribe and its homeland.

After that came Prophet Abraham and his nephew Prophet Lot. Allah had sent two angels to destroy the people of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. But before they went to Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels visited Prophet Abraham first who lived in the area of Canaan.

The visit was to tell Prophet Abraham about the good and bad news. The good news was that Abraham will have a son with his wife Sarah. Although very surprised because both of them were already very old, they were overjoyed with the good news.

After the good news, the angels told Prophet Abraham that they were on their way to destroy the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Prophet Abraham was alarmed, saying that his nephew Lot was there. The angels told him that Lot and his family who believed in him will be saved. Except his wife, because she disbelieved in him.

Then Prophet Abraham tried to plead with the angels to spare the people of Lot. But the angels said the matter had been decided by Allah and told Prophet Abraham to stop pleading.

The angels then came to Prophet Lot’s house as handsome young men. This worried Prophet Lot immensely because his people indulged in homosexuality. So he hid them in his house. But his wife went out to tell people about the handsome young guests.

Soon people came to his house demanding him to surrender the two men so that they can satisfy their lust. Prophet Lot tried to reason with them, saying they can marry his two beautiful daughters as that would be more decent. But they only laughed at him, saying they are not interested in women, and demanded him to surrender the two guests. When they demanded more violently and Prophet Lot feared something really terrible would happen, the guests said: "Do not be anxious or frightened, Lot, for we are angels, and these people will not harm you."

On hearing this, the mob was terrified and fled from Lot's house, hurling threats at him as they left. The angels warned Prophet Lot to leave his house before sunrise, taking with him all his family except his wife. While fleeing from the town, Allah destroyed the town of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Bible said that Prophet Lot also took his wife along, and warned her not to turn his face toward the town no matter what. While fleeing, an earthquake rocked the town and a storm of stones rained on the city, leaving horrifying sound behind. None of them turned their face to look at what happened, except his disbelieving wife. She turned to look at the terrifying event and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Some biblical commentators said that she was turned into a pillar of salt because, when the angels came and her husband hid them, his wife told him there was no salt in the house. Salt is very important in food preparation. Without salt, food would be tasteless, and that is not the way to treat special guests. So she told her husband she needed to go out to borrow some salt. In reality, she went out to tell the people about the guests. Since she lied about the salt, God turned her into a pillar of salt.

In the story of Prophet Lot, we saw that Prophet Abraham tried to appeal to the angels to spare the people of Lot. In the case of Prophet Noah, he himself had asked Allah to destroy all of the disbelievers. While Prophet Hud and Prophet Shalih did not directly ask Allah to destroy the disbelievers, they did not plead to Allah to spare or save them either.

Here, we see a similarity between Prophet Abraham and Prophet Muhammad. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, asked him one day whether he had encountered worst day than the Battle of Uhud.

In the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet was very sad. Not only that the Muslims had lost the war, but 70 of his companions were also killed, and among them was his beloved uncle Hamzah, who was not only killed, but mutilated. His belly was cut open, his liver was taken, his nose and his ears were cut off. The Prophet also lost his tooth and got badly hurt.

Despite all that, the Prophet said he had a worse day than the Day of Uhud. In the Lesson “Humble Beginning,” we have narrated how his people had treated him and his followers badly for 10 years. Then he lost his protective uncle Abu Talib and his beloved wife Khadijah. As he did not know what else to do, he went to Taif with a high hope that the people in Taif would believe in his message.

But, instead of treating him kindly, they chased him. The elders told the foolish people and the kids to stone him. He ran away bleeding and felt the world was closing on him. Then the angels came, saying that if he like, they can make the mountain crushed and destroyed all the people in Taif. Instead of agreeing with the angels’ proposal, the Prophet said: “No, rather I hope that Allah will bring from their descendants people who will worship Allah alone without associating partners with him.”

Here we see the likeness between Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Ibrahim. When asked which prophet looked like him, the Prophet used to say: “I am the one who resembles Abraham the most amongst his children.” He was referring to physical resemblance, but we can see that their approach is also similar. Unlike other prophets, both Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Abraham tried the best they can to save the people from being punished.

It is not a coincidence, therefore, that among 124,000 prophets, these two are often single out as the greatest. Or, in the story of the Brick House of Prophethood, these are the two greatest bricks.