Prophet Ishaq [Isaac] (Peace be upon him)

When he had turned away from them and from those whom they worshipped besides Allah, We bestowed on him Isaac and Jacob, and each one of them We made a prophet. (Maryam, 49)

 

THE PROPHET ISHAQ

 

Hz. Lut (Lot) was Hz. Ibrahim’s brother's son. He migrated from Babylon with Hz. Ibrahim. Then, he was given the duty of prophethood. He was sent to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah near Damascus. 

The people of these cities were immoral people.

Hz. Lut worked very hard to improve them but he could not improve them. The immorality, disobedience and aberration of the people of Sodom increased day by day. They did not obey Hz. Lut at all.

Eventually, Allah willed to punish them. He appointed three angels to punish them. They were Jibril, Mikail and Israfil.

These three angels were going to be disguised as handsome young men and visit Hz. Ibrahim first. They were going to give him the glad tiding that he would have a son called Ishaq from his wife, Sara. After that visit, they were going to destroy the nation of Lut. 

Hz. Ibrahim liked entertaining people. He always had some visitors in his house. When he did not have any visitors, he would go out and look for some people to entertain in his house.  

He did not have any guests for days. Finally, the angels arrived. They greeted Hz. Ibrahim and approached him. Hz. Ibrahim could not recognize them. Therefore, he answered their greeting as, “May Allah’s peace be upon you! O the people whom I do not know!”1

The guests were the people whose faces Hz. Ibrahim was not acquainted with. Their clothes were also different from those of the people living in that region. Therefore, he stated that he had not known them; thus, he kindly requested them to introduce themselves.

Hz. Ibrahim showed them nice places to sit. He treated them kindly and gently; he did his best to please them. He started to lay the table for them.  

There was veal kebab at home. Hz. Ibrahim brought the kebab on a tray, fat dripping from the meat.2 He put the tray in front of them and said, “Help yourselves.” However, the guests did not approach the tray. Hz. Ibrahim invited them to eat again, thinking that they were feeling shy. When he saw that they avoided eating, he started to suspect them: "Why did they not eat? Did they have any bad intentions?"

The angels felt that Hz. Ibrahim started to get anxious. They said to him jokingly,

"We do not eat without paying any money." We pay for what we eat. Hz. Ibrahim said,

"The price of this meal is to say, “Bismillah” (In the name of Allah) at the beginning and to say, “Alhamdulillah” (Praise be to Allah) at the end of it.  

When Jibril heard this answer, he turned to Mikail and said smilingly,

"This person really deserves to be a friend of Allah.”3

When Hz. Ibrahim heard this answer, he felt relieved; he understood that his guests were not ordinary people. The angels made the following explanation so as not to make him more anxious:

"O Ibrahim! Do not fear us. We are angels disguised as human beings. We came here to give you a glad tiding. You are going to have a son who has knowledge and perfection. You are going to name him Ishaq (Isaac).4

It became clear why the guests did not eat anything; they were angels.

The glad tiding given by the angels surprised Hz. Ibrahim and Sara. She screamed unwillingly: "Am I going to have a baby?" Then, she turned to the angels and said, “I got very old. My husband is also old like me but you say we are going to have a child.”5 The angels made the following explanation in order to soothe the excitement of Sara and to satisfy Ibrahim's curiosity:

"O Sara! O Ibrahim! Do not be surprised so much. Do not lose hope because you are old. We do not give you this news on our own. We inform you about what our Lord told us. Do not doubt that this news can be wrong. Allah's mercy and abundance will be with you today as it was in the past.”6

Hz. Ibrahim answered their explanation as follows:

"Who can lose hope of Lord's mercy except those who deny Him and are in aberration? We always hope Allah’s mercy. We are surprised because it is something that has not been heard up to this time."

After the shock caused by the news given by the angels, Hz. Ibrahim asked them the following question:

"O Messengers of Allah! Is the reason why you came here to this glad tiding only? Or did Allah give you another duty?

Thereupon, the angels told him the real purpose of their visit.

"We came here in order to destroy a nation that went astray, exited the true religion, did immoral things and acted contrarily to the nature of man."7

Hz. Ibrahim asked them the name of this nation. The angels said that the nation to be destroyed was the nation of Lut.

When Hz. Ibrahim heard it, he panicked. He said,

"Lut lives among them. He is a sincere slave of Allah. Are you going to destroy him, too?”

The angels answered:

"We know the people in that city. Lut and those who believe in him will definitely be saved. However, Lut's wife will not be saved because she opposed Lut and supported his nation against him. Therefore, she will be destroyed too."8

Hz. Ibrahim was glad that Lut and the believers who followed him would be saved but he was thinking about the people that would be destroyed. He wished the nation of Lut would be given some more time. He wished their punishment would be delayed. He hoped they would understand their mistakes and would be improved. Hz. Ibrahim told the angels about his thoughts. He asked them to give the nation of Lut another chance.

Hz. Ibrahim was a lenient, mild and gentle person naturally.9 He did not get angry easily. He would endure all kinds of bad treatment against him patiently; he heartily wanted to improve people. He believed that even a very bad person had some nice qualities. He waited for that person to improve hoping that his nice aspect would overcome his bad aspects. Therefore, he did not want the angels to destroy the nation of Lut at once. In fact, man wants other people to have the good characteristics that he has. He sincerely wants others to have the same mentality. It is his inborn quality.  

However, Hz. Ibrahim did not know the state of the nation of Lut very well. He was unaware that it was impossible to improve them and that they deserved punishment. Besides, Allah Almighty sent Hz. Ibrahim a revelation and warned him:

"O Ibrahim! Seek not this. The decree of thy Lord hath gone forth: for them there cometh a penalty that cannot be turned back."10

The angels fulfilled their duty and left Hz. Ibrahim to go to the nation of Lut.

 

* * *

Hz. Ibrahim had a son from Sara as the angels had stated. They named him Ishaq.

Upon the birth of Hz. Ishaq, Hz. Ibrahim prayed Allah as follows:

"Praise be to Allah, who hath granted unto me in old age Ismail and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer.

O my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! and accept my Prayer.

O our Lord! cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness― me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established."(*)

 

* * *

After the death of Hz. Ibrahim, Allah Almighty gave Hz. Ishaq the duty of prophethood and sent him to the people of Damascus and Palestine. Ishaq looked like his father. It was difficult for many people to differentiate between them.

Hz. Ishaq had two sons called Ays (Is) and Yaqub (Jacob). Kings came from Ays’ progeny and prophets from Yaqub’s progeny.

Hz. Ishaq died when he was about160. When he died, he was buried next to his father. May Allah enable us to receive their intercession!  

 

FOOTNOTES

1 Hud, 69

2 Hud, 69.

3 M.Veh­bi, ibid.

4 Hud, 70-71.

5 Hud, 72.

6 Hud. 73.

7 Hud, 70.

8 al-Hijr, 60

9 Hud, 75.

10 Hud, 76.

(*) It is understood from this prayer Hz. Ibrahim’s that Allah Almighty ask prophets to beg Him and to pray Him as servants although they are protected from committing sins. Besides, they need to beg and pray Allah in return for the attribute of ismah (not committing sins) granted to them by Him as a grace and for the continuation of this state.

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