What does “I am from Abraham’s nation” mean? Can you give some information about Hanif religion?

Details of the Question
What does “I am from Abraham’s nation” mean? Can you give some information about Hanif religion?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The word “Nation” is used in the sense of religion here.

They say: “Become Jews or Christians if you would be guided (to salvation).” Say you: “Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham, Hanif the True, and he joined not gods with Allah.”

Say you: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” (al-Baqara, 2/135, 136).

Say: “Allah spoken the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham (Hanifa), the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans.” (Al-i Imran, 3/95).

Explanation:

135. Jews an Christians said to everybody; “Become Jews or Christians if you would be guided (to salvation).” Jews always called to Judaism, and Christians always called to Christianity. While both of them did not come together, each of them  brought out disunity and controversy; besides, they claimed this was salvation. Therefore, O Muhammad! You say; “Not become Jews or Christians: on the contrary, become Hanif; namely, become the nation (religion) of Abraham which is purified from unbelief and polytheism. Abraham was Hanif, not polytheistic.

He never belonged to Jews and Christians, who came after him and resembled polytheists in many ways as mentioned above. However, they were previous communities. If you say; “How can we belong to them?”, it is easy: Firstly, their being former (communities) is not a barrier to follow and obey them. Secondly, you are not completely themselves; become a new and big community that renovates it, livens it again and enlarges it;  and that is the purpose of Abraham’s request in his supplication; so, this community will become a bigger  community that will comprise also Abraham’s community.

136. In order to be like this: Say you: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” (al-Baqara, 2/136) We do not become like the Jews and Christians, who do not recognize some of them while recognizing others. Saying like this does not mean that we accept all of them to have the same rank and degree. It means that we do not reject any of them, and we accept the prophethood of all of them; we do not assume a different attitude in regards of their prophethood. Therefore, firstly we accept Allah, then our Prophet (Muhammad), later the prophets that he said they were prophets. We submit only to Allah, and are loyal only to Him.

So, Islamic nation is so wide that it is the perfect religion and a magnificent community that comprises all religions. (For the commentary of the related verses, see Elmalılı Tefsiri)

The Prophet Abraham traveled to many places after he had left Babylonia. At last, he decided to settle in Damascus. The number of his believers increased day by day there. The community formed by followers of Abraham was named as Abraham’s nation.

When the Prophet Abraham was about to leave Babylonia, he remembered that he would pray Almighty Allah for his father’s forgiveness, and he prayed for his father’s forgiveness as follows:

“Forgive my father; for that he is among those astray.” (ash-Shu’ara, 26/86)

The Prophet Abraham who knew that it was not permissible to pray for an unbeliever even though that unbeliever was his father; he did so only because of the promise he had made to him when he was leaving Babylonia. Abraham’s prayer for his father’s forgiveness was not accepted, and this situation is explaned as follows in the following verse:

“It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for Pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire.” (at-Tawbah, 9/113)

The Prophet Abraham spent his remaining life with the Prophets Lot, Isma’il and Isaac. Allah stated the following about them:

“And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practise regular charity; and they constantly served (only) Us.” (al-Anbiya, 21/73)

Allah gave a book of ten pages to the Prophet Abraham. After he lived a long time, he went to Eygpt towards the end of his life. When the Prophet Abraham died, according to strong narrations, he was burried in the place named Khalilu’r- Rahman, near Jerusalem.

Hanif: The religion of the Prophet Abraham was based on monotheism (oneness of Allah). In the course of time, this religion was forgotten, and idolatry spread all over Arabia. However, the traces of monotheism could be seen in some people. These people were called Hanif.

“Hanif” means someone who is far from unbelief, who turns towards Allah and who accepts Allah as the only god. The word “Hanif” is mentioned in several verses of the Qur’an. The word “Hanif” is used for the Prophet Abraham in the sense of a servant who worships Allah in a clear and pure way.

The following expressions are used in the verses about Hanif.

“ And further (thus): ‘set your face towards religion with true piety, and never in any wise be of the Unbelievers.” (Yunus-Jonah, 10/105).

So We have taught you the inspired (Message), “Follow the ways of Abraham the True

Before Islam,  in the Arabian community, people like Waraqa bin Nawfal, Abdullah bin Jahsh, Uthman bin Huwayris, Zayd bin Amr, Quss bin Saida were some of Hanifs. These were the people who regarded ‘bowing in front of idols that were lifeless, dumb and powerless, and praying to them’ as nonsense.

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