Prophet Abraham (pbuh) Entraps the Idols

Prophet Abraham called on those around him to believe in God with wise and pleasing words, but received a very different reaction from the society he lived in. The great majority of the people in that tribe failed to abide by the moral values of the true religion communicated by him, and persisted in their paganism. Prophet Abraham waged a major intellectual struggle against these people with their superstitious beliefs, during which he employed different methods and means. One of these was to seek to distance the deniers and polytheists from him in order to reduce the pressure from them on him. He therefore said that he was sick. This is reported in these terms in the Qur’an:

And [Abraham] asked his father and his tribe: “What are you worshipping? Is it falsehood—deities besides God—that you desire? So what are your thoughts about the Lord of all the worlds?” He looked at the stars and said: “I am sick.” So they turned their backs on him. (Qur’an, 37:85-90)

After sending the unbelievers away, he went up to the idols and smashed them.

He left only one of the idols undamaged.

When his tribe saw what had happened and that only the largest idol remained, they immediately began looking for the person who had done this. This event is described thus in the Qur’an:

They exclaimed: “Who has done this to our deities? He is definitely one of the wrongdoers!” They said: “We heard a young man mentioning them. They call him Abraham.” They ordered: “Bring him before the people’s eyes so they can be witnesses!” They asked: “Did you do this to our deities, Abraham?” (Qur’an, 21:59-62)

That question revealed why Prophet Abraham did not destroy the largest idol. His answer is revealed in the Qur’an:

He said: “No, this one, the largest of them, did it. Ask them, if they are able to speak!” (Qur’an, 21:63)

Hearing this response, the unbelievers inevitably began thinking and understanding that their idols would never have the power of speech. And so his plan succeeded, for it caused them to question their pagan belief system. The Qur’an states:

They consulted among themselves and said: “It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers.” (Qur’an, 21:64)

However, their regret did not last long.

Despite having understood the truth, they again decided to oppose Prophet Abraham in order to maintain their traditional pagan belief system, which was in line with their own transitory worldly interests. This time, the polytheists decided to respond to him with violence.

They drew up a most cruel plan. Their intention was to cast Prophet Abraham into the fire and burn him, thus putting an end to his intellectual struggle. However, in the same way that God assisted all His messengers, He also helped him; He commanded the flames to be “cool and peace” towards him. This event, of course, is one of our Lord’s miracles. The cruelty of the deniers is described as follows in the verses that relate how their plan was confounded:

We said: “Fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham.” They desired to trap him, but We made them the losers. We delivered both him and Lot to the land that We had blessed for all beings. (Qur’an, 21:69-71)