As Muslims, we believe that the Prophets (as) were the best of mankind, sent into the world to guide and bring people back to the worship of Allah (swt). One of the greatest Prophets sent was a man that the Quran refers to as "a community unto himself" [an-Nahl:120]. The description is a powerful example of who he was, and the legacy he left behind. He faced test upon test, and what was remarkable was how he persevered when the tests came. We can all learn a lot of from the example of Ibrahim (as).
Sometimes, the best way to study the life of someone great, is to understand their virtues, the way they interacted with people, often ordinary people, to see who they truly were. We can learn below some of the key characteristics in the life of Ibrahim (as) that made his actions exemplary and memorable and why he is described as one of greatest prophets to ever walk the earth.
1. He was a leader
In the Quran, when Allah (swt) tells Ibrahim (as) He will make him an Imam for the people, Ibrahim (as) responds:
This is a powerful example in using the blessings of Allah to do more good. Allah made him an imam, a leader for the people, and his focus was continuing this legacy for his progeny and the ummah. Ibrahim (as) was focused on worshippingAllah through the servitude of humanity. He knew the value of cultivating leadership and made dua to Allah to aide him in his efforts. He was forthcoming in leading the way of doing good,as well as inspiring others to take action. He also knew the importance of making sure he did not neglect his family in his dawah endeavours, and therefore, was a man of balance.
2. He perfected Tawakul (Trust in Allah)
In Tafsir Ibn Katheer it states that,
This is powerful because it demonstrates how much people opposed Ibrahim (as) and how much that inspired him to trust Allah more. Ibrahim (as) did not seek their approval, instead he focused more on pleasing Allah and making Him a priority. He also knew who Allah was and his conviction in Him responding to his duas in times of hardship highlighted this. When he was being thrown into the fire, he had certainty of faith that Allah would aide him. This is Ibrahim (as)’s example of having tawakul, as his reliance was only on Allah (swt), swaying him from distractions that may harm his faith in Him.
3. He was the father of hospitality.
Allah says in the Quran:
One of the commands of our faith that the Prophet (saw) was emphasised often was honouring your guests. Ibrahim demonstrated this beautifully by feeding strangers who he did not know, and when he did this, he prepared a generous meal. He did this with excellence and illustrated how we should treat our guests.
4. He was forbearing.
When faced with challenges, trials and tests, Ibrahim (as) was calm and sensible in his approach. When his father opposed him and his message, he was not angry or impatient, rather he spoke to his father in a beautiful, soft manner. This is important when speaking to people who may differ from us in belief.
5. He worked with Ihsaan (excellence).
Often times when it comes to our spiritual obligations, we rush our prayers, we neglect giving to charity and fasting outside of Ramadan, yet in the example of Ibrahim (as), we discover he did everything with ihsaan (excellence). This quality of his effort is so special, and now, thousands of years later, we follow his example in our practice of the religion because he pursued his effortswith a high calibre.
When we learn about the stories of Prophets (as) from the Quran and Sunnah, we should remember these stories are lessons for us to heed. From the examples highlighted, ask yourself what inspired you the most and how can you implement some of these virtues in your own life. Allah sent the Prophets (as) as the best of examples to follow and Ibrahim (as) was a human being for a reason, so we could all aspire to respond in the same way.
May Allah allow us to be inspired by the Prophets and righteous and may the examples rectify and light the path to Him with ease, and change our condition internally and externally, Aameen.