It is said that the name of Hz. Ibrahim was "Avram" until he was one hundred years old. Accordingly, is it not a mistake for the name "Ibrahim" to be used in the verses of the Quran?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is known that Hz. Ibrahim’s name is Ebrahem, Ebram and similar names in the previous books.  

However, it is known that the words of Hebrew, Assyrian and similar languages are used in a way that is in compliance with Arabic in the Quran. For instance, the Quran changed the name Muses/Musash as Musa, Yesu as Isa and Shelom as Sulayman. Hz. Ibrahim’s name was changed like that too. (see Niyazi Beki. Kur’an’daki İsimlerin Esrarı)

Thus, it is not a mistake but a wise usage by the Quran.

Besides, it is more appropriate for a person who had different names to be mentioned with his last name in the remaining part of his life and after his death. From this point of view, the use of the name Ibrahim in the Quran has a wise aspect.

On the other hand, it is the necessity of a separate wisdom to use the same name while mentioning the same person. It is necessary not to confuse the listeners about the person who is mentioned. Thus, the purpose and wisdom will have been fulfilled. Besides, what matters is the owner of the name. The name that indicates it and that ensures correct understanding is preferred.

In addition, it is highly probable that the name mentioned as Avram, Ebrahem, Ebram and in other similar ways is Ibrahim. As a matter of fact, there is a magnificent similarity and wonderful harmony between the name Ibrahim and the characteristics of Hz. Ibrahim.

According to what Islamic scholars state, the word Ibrahim has the same meaning in both Assyrian and Arabic: “merciful, softhearted father”(see al-Qurtubi, II/96)

According to what Suhayli and some other tafsir scholars state, the Assyrian language and Arabic are similar to each other in several ways like the word Ibrahim.

Another issue that strengthens the lexical meaning of Ibrahim is the narrations indicating that he approached all children with mercy and that he and his wife Sara are interested in all children in the intermediate realm (barzakh) until the Day of Judgment. (see al-Qurtubi, ibid)

In addition, as it is mentioned in the Quran, the fact that the prophets that came after him were his descendants strengthens his title of merciful father.

The expression “wa min dhurriyati” (and also (Imams) from my offspring) that is mentioned in verse 124 of the chapter of al-Baqara and that indicates Hz. Ibrahim’s fatherly mercy sheds light on this meaning.

The verse is as follows:

“And remember that Abraham (Ibrahim) was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: ‘I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.’ He pleaded: ‘And also (Imams) from my offspring!’ He answered: ‘But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers’.”

Clues supporting the views stating that the word Ibrahim is derived from Eb-Rahim (merciful father) are indicated in the verse above. The prophets coming from his offspring are witnesses of it.

Tafsir scholars of the Bible state that the word Abraham (Ibrahim) means “a father of many (nations)”. (see Genesis, 17/5, footnote)

The following scene, which shows the place of Hz. Ibrahim, who is Allah’s friend, compassionate, father of prophets and especially the ancestor of Hz. Muhammad, who was sent as a mercy to the realms, in the Quran is worth seeing in terms of the miraculousness of the Quran:

1. His name is Ibrahim. It means a softhearted, merciful father. The Quran describes him as Awwah in two places to express this meaning:

“…Abraham was most tender-hearted, forbearing." (at-Tawba, 9/114)

"For Abraham was, without doubt, forbearing (of faults), compassionate (tender-hearted), and given to look to Allah.” (Hud, 11/75)

According to what Elmalılı Hamdi states, the word Awwah mentioned in the verses above is explained in different way but all explanations generally describe a person who is tender-hearted and merciful.

“Therefore, the tafsir scholars of the last century stated that it was used to express tender heart, mercy and compassion.” (see Yazır, 4/415, I/405)

2. In the Quranic orthography, the abjad value of the word Ibrahim is 258. The abjad value of the word Rahim, which means compassionate, merciful in Arabic, is also 258.

3. Verse 75 of the chapter of Hud, in which the word Awwah with this meaning is used for the last time and in which the word Ibrahim is used, is verse 1548 of the Quran, which equals to 6x258.

4. In the whole Quran, there is only one verse numbered 258; it is in the chapter of al-Baqara. This verse is allocated to the name Ibrahim, whose abjad value is 258.  Besides, this name is repeated twice in this verse:

“Hast thou not Turned thy vision to one who disputed with Abraham About his Lord, because Allah had granted him power? Abraham said: ‘My Lord is He Who Giveth life and death.’ He said: ‘I give life and death’. Said Abraham: ‘But it is Allah that causeth the sun to rise from the east: Do thou then cause him to rise from the West.’ Thus, was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected faith. Nor doth Allah Give guidance to a people unjust.”

5. Page 258 of the Quran is in the chapter of Ibrahim, whose abjad value is 258.   

6. In the chapter of Ibrahim, the word Ibrahim is used only once and it is on the page opposite page 258.

When we take into consideration the information above, it will be understood how wise it is to mention him by the word Ibrahim in the Quran though he had different names.

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