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Did Abraham smash the idols? The accounts of Abraham, Suras 19:41-49, 6:74-83 differ quite a bit from Sura 21:51-59. While in Sura 21 Abraham confronts his people strongly, and even destroys the idols, in Sura 19 Abraham shuts up after his father threatens him to stone him for speaking out against the idols. And he seems not only to become silent, but even to leave the area ("turning away from them all").
Note: It is truly saddening to find people using such expressions as "shuts up" in reference to a messenger of God. Even if that person does not like Muslims, still, that is no excuse to display disrespect to God's messengers. This is especially so with regard to a messenger whom God named "Friend of God" (In Islam: "Khaleelullah," also see James 2:23). If one does not wish to refer to them with the words "peace be upon them" then at least do not use vulgar language when referring to them. Basic respect of God requires that we at least guard ourselves in how we refer to those whom He personally selected and preferred from among His creation to receive His Words, Scriptures, Revelation and Message.
By now the general theme of these objections is beginning to become clear and quite repetitive. The Qur'an repeats a number of stories of the prophets throughout its text, in many cases very briefly, and each time emphasizing a specific aspect of the ministry of that prophet. For the author of this list this is objectionable. He requires that the whole story be narrated in one location, all together, or else if it is ever mentioned again in a different location then it must be repeated word for word with no additional details nor any details of the previous narration left out. In this manner, if I were to ask him to tell me the story of Jesus (pbuh) raising Lazarus, he shall be required to recount in very great detail to me the complete ministry of Jesus (pbuh) from birth to ascension, leaving out no details. Similarly, if I ask him to tell me the story of Jesus' purification of the Temple, then he shall similarly be required to recount every single detail of the story of the ministry of Jesus (pbuh) from birth to ascension. Only in this fashion, according to his chosen criteria can he avoid falling into a "contradiction."
Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was granted wisdom and guidance from a very young age. He migrated with his father at a young age to Harran in northern Sham (the land of the Kildaniyeen). The people worshipped the planets and had set up at each entrance to the city of Damascus an idol representing their seven "planet gods" whom they would worship and present their sacrifices to. Abraham (pbuh) was guided from young age to worship Allah(God) alone and did his best to guide his father and the people of the land. At one point, he used his wisdom to display the truth to them through logic. He began with a planet, then moved up to the moon, then moved up to the sun, and then showed the superiority of God over all of them. One day he was discussing this matter with some of them and they refused to listen to reason or logic, so he vowed to place them in a position where they would be forced to recognize the truth. He stayed behind after they left town in order to celebrate their yearly festival and he destroyed all of their idols except the biggest one. He placed the ax in the hands of the biggest idol to make it look like it had destroyed all of the smaller idols and this might get them to thinking whether they could really talk or move. When they returned they were furious and bound Abraham. They asked him if he had destroyed the idols and he told them to ask the "grand" idol for the answer. They recognized their error and that these idols could not speak nor act, however, they quickly made an about-face and returned to their previous stance. They decided to burn prophet Abraham in a tremendous fire in retribution for their gods. They collected wood for many weeks in a very large valley and then lit it and threw Abraham (pbuh) into it. Allah commanded the fire to not harm Abraham (pbuh) and he remained in it for many days with no ill effects while those outside watched but could not approach him from the tremendous heat.
Abraham continued to try and guide his father and show him the error of his ways, however, his father refused to believe him and finally got fed up with him ordering him away. Abraham (pbuh) spoke kind words to his father and departed. He would continue to ask God for forgiveness for his father for a very long time after that and up until his father's death. Abraham (pbuh) decided to flee the land of evil and "migrate unto his Lord" who would guide him. It is assumed that his famous exchange with Al-Namrood, the king of Babylon occurred during this period. This is when Al-Namrood claimed to have the power of life and death by killing one of his slaves and not killing the other. Abraham (pbuh) replied to him: "Allah brings the sun from the East, so bring it from the West!" Al-Namrood was flabbergasted and could not respond. This was another manifestation of the wisdom of the "Friend of God," Abraham (pbuh).
Now, let us assume that one were to ask about prophet Abraham's relationship to his father, which has no bearing on the story of Al-Namrood or that of the smashing of the idols. In this case it would be completely appropriate to say: "Prophet Abraham spoke to his father and tried to convince him to see reason and to stop worshipping his idols. His father refused to listen to reason and after some time he got so fed up with Abraham's advice that he told him he did not want to see him again. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) responded kindly to his father, departed, and continued to pray for him until he passed away."
On the other hand, if one were to ask for a more general narration of the life prophet Abraham and his ministry then additional details could be included as necessary.
Indeed, the moral of one story in the Qur'an is to teach all Muslims how to be respectful of their parents even in the worst of situations and to speak kindly to them and pray for them. It also teaches Muslims that one should not pray for those who die upon disbelief after their death, if they knew about the truth but refused it. It is all about parents and family and relationships.
The second story is more general than that and teaches wisdom and courage in the call to the path of God and His salvation. For this reason, those aspects of the life of prophet Abraham related to this issue are now recounted.
So, is this a contradiction?
The "Easter Challenge" and a $2000 reward:
There is a difference between a set of stories, each of which describe a different occurrence in the life a given person and thus, can be harmonized together into one narration without contradiction, and between a case where a set of narrations claim that a specific occurrence happened two or more different ways and can in no way be harmonized together. One example of the later case is presented by a former Christian priest and "The Skeptical Review" of Canton, IL. After many years of sermons and study of the Bible, Mr. Dan Barker (firstname.lastname@example.org), a former Christian priest and author of many books and musicals such as "Mary had a little lamb" and "his fleece was white as snow" etc., after many years of trying, this man finally gave up on ever trying to harmonize the conflicting narrations in the Bible, abandoned his preaching and turned atheist.
The different "Canons" of the Bible!
Different and conflicting variations of "gospels" and "books" that are disagreed upon by the Churches today.
He has since had numerous debates with many Christians and clergymen and
has recently offered a $1000 reward supplemented by a further $1000 from "The
Skeptical Review" (for a total of $2000) to anyone who can present them with a
complete chronological narration of the "resurrection of Jesus" which includes
all verses of the Bible related to the resurrection, in any order, and leaves out none.
The challenge can be found in his book "Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To
Atheist." It is as follows:
"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not." I Corinthians 15:14-15
The conditions of the challenge is simple and reasonable. Take the narrations of the resurrection in each of the four Gospels. In each one, begin at Easter morning and read to the end of the book: (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also read Acts 1:3-12 and Paul's tiny version of the story in I Corinthians 15:3-8). These 165 verses can be read in a few moments. Then, without omitting a single detail from these separate accounts, write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension: what happened first, second, and so on; who said what, when; and where these things happened. Send them to "The Skeptical Review" at P.O. Box 717, Canton, IL 61520-0717. If anyone is able to do this then they shall receive $2000 dollars.
I suggest that the author of this list and all of his friends who maintain that the Church has never tampered with the Bible please send Mr. Barker a complete and detailed answer and then kindly post a photocopy of the $2000 reward check on his same "Answering Islam" homepage. Before anyone reverts to accusing Muslims of backwardness, faithlessness, and ignorance, they are asked to please keep in mind that Mr. Barker is not a Muslim. He is a former Christian priest turned atheist with many years experience in the study and preaching of the text of the Bible. Since our current authors maintain the position that any contradiction in the Bible is only an outgrowth of Muslim propaganda and inferior understanding and that all contradictions can be harmonized, therefore this should be a golden opportunity for them to pick up a quick $2000 dollars. Obviously neither one of these men shall wish to stoop to answering this challenge only to increase their bank accounts, however, I am sure that they shall be able to put it to good use in the charity of their choice, since obviously this sum would go a long way to feeding many needy people or clothing them and it might also go a long way to guiding an atheist back to Christianity. A win-win proposition. I encourage them to keep us apprised of their progress.
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