The Prophets of Islam
Lut was a nephew of Ibrahim, bom to his brother name Haran in the city of Ur. Haran had died when Ibrahim quit Ur, and Lut accompanied his uncle Ibrahim in his travels. When Ibrahim finally settled in Kin'an, Allah appointed Lut as His messenger to the people inhabiting the northern vally of River Jordan, in the region of Motaffakah. There were two prosperous cities in this region known as Sodom and Gomorrah.
The people living in this region were morally corrupt. They openly practiced homosexuality. They defied the teachings of Lut and ridiculed and tortured him. In fact the degree of defiance was so high that Lut and his family lived 1 constant threat of persecution.
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
It was the year when Allah sent instructions to Ibrahim for ritual circumcision. He received Angels who informed him of the doom that was in stock for the people of Sidom and Gomorrah. Ibrahim asked for the safety of his nephew Lut and his family. After assurances from Allah about the safety of his nephew and his family, the angels left for the territory of the ill fated people.
The angels arrived at the door of Lut in the form of handsome lads. The towns people rushed to grab them for their pleasure. Lut pleaded for their release but failed due to their superior numbers and determination. The angels delivered the instructions from Allah to Lut and told him to quit the region immediately and none of them should look back.
No sooner the family of Lut had climbed the hills beyond the territory of Sodom and Gomorrah, than a terrible earth quake struck the region. A fire of sulphur and huge boulders flung from above and from the bowels of the earth, fully destroying the people and the two cities. The wife of Lut sympathized with the sinful people and disobeyed the instructions of Allah. She turned back to look at the raging destruction down in the valley and was converted to a pillar of rock. Lut hurried out of the region with rest of his family to the sanctuary promised by Allah.
Refrences : al Qur'an: Sura Anam, A'raf, ]Lud, Hajar, Anmbiya'. Shu'ra', Nahl, Ankaboot, Sa:faat, Zafiyat, Najan, Qamar, Tahreem.
Ismail was the elder son of Ibrahim bom to Hajirah. Sarah, the first wife of Prophet Ibrahim had no child of her own. She became jealous of Hajirah. But Allah had his own designs for Sarah. Allah instructed Ibrahim to take his wife Hajirah and his son Ismail to Hejaz, deep south in the desert of Arabia where the city of Makkah stands today. It was a desolate place at that time.
The Miracle of Zam Zam
The place where Allah had instructed Ibrahim to leave his wife and child was without any vegetation or habitation. Ismail was thirsty and the mother had run out of water. She ran several times between two hills trying to look out for help, water or vegetation. She was unsuccessful in her quest. However as the child cried kicking the ground with his heels, a spring of fresh water gushed out. This spring runs with unlimited fresh water to this day, and is treated as holy water by pilgrims to Makkah. The act of Hajirah became so significant in her effort to save the life of her child who would be a prophet, that Allah deemed this an essential part of the Haj ritual for all times to come.
The Founding of the City of Makkah
Awandering tribe of the land known as Banu Jarham arrived in the desolate territory to find Ismail and his mother encamped with the fresh water spring which never existed there before. They were fascinated when they heard the story of the spring. They knew that there had been no such spring at that site before. They paid reverence to the holy family and erected their tents by the spring. This temporary sojourn became a permanent settlement, and later came to be known as Makkah.
The Trial of Ibrahim by Allah
Ismail was only nine when his father Ibrahim saw in a dream, that he sacrificed his only son to please Allah. On seeing the same dream on three consecutive nights, he told Ismail about it. Ismail replied that it must be a test from Allah to test their wills, and he was willing to be sacrificed in the way of Allah.
Ibrahim took his son Ismail to Mina, laid him on the ground, and tied his arms and legs with a cord. As he placed his knife on the throat of his son, the Archangel Jibril (Gabrial) appeared and announced that the test of their ultimate submission to Allah was complete. Just then, by the Grace of Allah, a healthy lamb appeared there to be sacrificed in place of Ismail. Ibrahim was given the happy tiding that Allah was pleased with them, and their position would be elevated. Ibrahim was also given the happy news of another son, Ishaq.
This act of the great prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail became an essential part of Hajj for all times, and is celebrated a day before the annual Eid al-Adha'. The Building of Kalba Ibrahim and his son Ismail, following divine instructions, built the Ka'ba in Makkah as a House of worship for Allah. On completion of the Holy structure, both of them prayed to Allah for acceptance of their service.
They called upon the people to come for pilgrimage (Hajj). Since then, the tradition of the two prophets has continued to be performed through the centuries. The black stone (Hajre Aswad) was placed in one comer of the building by the Prophet Ibrahim. According to some traditions, this stone had descended from the heaven!
For the muslim pilgrim, one of the center points of the rituals of Hajj is to go round the Ka'ba seven times and to kiss Hajre Aswad. This is done in remembrance to the act of devotion by the patriarch of our prophets. It is one of the essential obligations of the faithful to go to Makkah and perform the ritual Hajj at least once during his life time.
Ismail had many sons and daughters who migrated to several parts of the Arabian peninsula and they imparted the teachings of Ibrahim wherever they settled. However Makkah remained the central place of congregation throughout the ages, and Ka'ba continued to be the most revered house of worship. Ismail is also known as Abul Arab, the patriarch of the Arabs. The last of the messengers of Allah, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was bom in the clan of Quraish who descended from Ismail and were amongst the most powerful people of Arabia.
References : al Qur'an: Sura Baqara, Anam, Maryam, An'mbiya'. Sa ffat, Jinn.
Ishaq was bom to Sarah the first wife of Ibrahim nine years after the birth of Ismail to Hajirah. In fact the news of the birth of the second son was given to Ibrahim after passing the trial of the sacrifice of his son Ismail in Mina'. Ishaq lived in Kin'an and was appointed prophet towards his people by Allah. He had two sons, who were twins. They were named Issau and Ya'qub (Jacob). Banu Israil are named after Ya'qub who was also known as Israil.
References : al Qur'an: Sura Baqarah, An'am, Yusuf, Amubiya', Sa'ffat, Jinn.
Ya'qub was one of the twin sons of Ishaq. He was appointed prophet towards his people after the death of his father. His popular name was Israil, and his progeny is called Banu Israil (the children of Israil). He had twelve sons and one daughter. The twelve tribes of the children of Israil are named after his twelve sons. Yusuf was one of his sons. He was extremely handsome and was dearly loved by his father. His brothers were jealous of him and they always looked for an excuse to get him away from their father. Finally they took him away at the pretext of hunting and threw him in a well. Ya'qub cried so much at the separation of his beloved son that he lost his eye sight.
As will be seen in the narrative on the life of Yusuf, Allah rescued Yusuf from the well and made him the king of Egypt. There was famine in the land of Kin'an, and his brothers came to get grain from the king. Yusuf recognized them, for they were the same fellows who had thrown him in the well. He forgave them and had them move, along with his father, to Egypt. The children of Israil remained in Egypt for about four hundred and thirty years until Musa ultimately rescued them from the ill treatment rendered by King Rameses III.
References : al Qur'an: Sura Baqara, Anam, Ale Imran, Yusuf, Anmbiya', Jinn, Momen.
Yusuf was one of the twelve sons of Ya'qub. His mother's name was Raheel. He had a younger sister and a brother named Benyamin (Benjamin) from the same mother. Yusuf was exceptionally handsome and was very dear to his parents.
The dream of Yusuf and its interpretation by his father
One day Yusuf told his father about a dream he had seen the previous night. He saw that the sun, the moon and eleven stars bowed down before him. His father was the prophet of the time and knew the meaning of the dream. He told him that he would be a prophet of Allah and will be a powerful king over all, including his parents and his brothers.
III treatment of Yusuf by his brothers
Interpretation of the dream by Ya'qoub did not sit well with his sons who were already distraught due to their father's special affections for Yusuf. They decided to get rid of their brother Yusuf. They threw him in a well and brought his shirt, smothered in sheep's blood. They put up a false scene upon entering their home, wailing and crying. They told their parents that a wolf had devouvered their young brother, and that they were unable to save him from the terrible fate.
Ya'qub was so grieved at the story and was so saddened by the apparent loss of his son that he wept profusely all day and all night. It is said that he lost his eye sight due to excessive crying.
Yusuf retrieved from the well and sold as a slave
Having thrown their younger brother in the well, the older brothers stayed around to see what may happen. A caravan headed for Egypt stopped at the well, for water and rest. Seeing a handsome youth in the well they pulled him out and wondered at his beauty and youth. The brothers showed up in front of the leader of the caravan and said that the youth was their slave who had escaped from them and had hidden himself in the well. The leader of the caravan saw the potential of higher sale value for Yusuf in the slave market of Egypt and he paid a lowly price to his brothers for legitimising his ownership.
Upon arriving in Egypt, the caravan leader placed Yusuf on the market. His price increased every day. The ruler of Egypt heard about the sale of an exceptionally handsome youth in his city and he came down to see him. He was stunned at the beauty of the lad and paid the highest price at the bidding. He took him to his palace to serve his beautiful wife, Zulaikhah who had no child.
Yusuf in servitude of the Pharaoh of Egypt
Yusuf served the king and his wife with such honesty and efficiency that he was made incharge of the ruler's house-hold. It so happened that Zulaikhah developed infatuation for Yusuf and started to love him with increasing passion.
The story of Zulaikhah's love for Yusuf
Zulaikhah fell madly in love with Yusuf, but he took every opportunity to avoid her advances. At one occasion she was successful in trapping him into her chamber so that she could be alone with him. No sooner he realized the wicked designs of the queen than he made for the door of the chamber. She lunged after him and was able to grab his shirt from behind. In the short scuffle that followed, Yusuf's shirt was tom from behind. Just as he escaped through the chamber door, he bumped into the king himself. Realizing the acuteness of her situation, the queen yelled out for help. The ruler was greatly angered by the rather strange circumstances and looked at Yusuf demanding an explanation.
Yusuf said that he was innocent, and that Zulaikhah was the guilty one. One of Zulaikhah's own relatives from the house-hold came forward to clear the matter. He said that if Yusuf's shirt was tom from front, then he was the aggressor and culpable for his actions, but if it was tom from behind, then Zulaikhah was guilty. As Yusuf's shirt was tom from behind, the ruler found his wife to be culpable for the embarrassing event.
He told Yusuf to forget the event, and told his wife to refrain from seeing Yusuf when alone. However, the story of the scandel got out of the palace, and spread far and wide. Women of other nobles maliciously gossiped about this happening. Zulaikhah arranged a party and invited the women of nobility to her palace. As they were busy cutting and eating fruits, she summoned Yusuf into her audience. As he arrived in their presence, the women got totally stunned by his beauty, and many cut their fingers instead of the fruits in their hands. They were now convinced over what they had heard about Yusuf and his beauty. Yusuf prayed to Allah to save him from the wickedness of the queen and other women of Egypt.
The imprisonment of Yusuf
When the king leamt about the scandalous involvement of the wives of other nobles in his kingdom over Yusuf, he considered it best to take Yusuf away from his palace, and threw him into the prison. However the supervisor of the prisons noted the purity of character and conduct of Yusuf and started to treat him with respect. He made him his deputy in managing the affairs of the prison.
Interpretation of dreams by Yusuf
It so happened that two other young men were thrown in the same prison. Each one of them saw a dream. One saw that he was extracting juice from ripe grapes and the other saw that he was carrying a basket of bread over his head, and birds ate freely from it. They asked Yusuf if he could interpret their dreams. He gave them serinon on virtuous conduct and belief on the oneness of Allah. He then gave them the interpretation of their dreams.
He told the one who saw himself extracting juice from grapes, that he would be pardoned for the allegations and would be set free, and that he would return to his old employment of serving drinks to his master. He told the other intem that he would be crucified for his deeds, and birds of prey would feed on his corp after his death. Yusuf then asked the first prisoner to make a plea for his release as soon - as he got out of the prison. But the man forgot his promise.
Now the king saw a dream over successive nights that got him concerned. His courtiers and astrologers failed to satisfy him with any plausable interpretation. At that time, one of the prisoners who had survived, remembered Yusuf. He told the ruler that he could find the interpretation of his dreams if he was allowed to visit Yusuf in the prison. He was pen-nitted to do so. He greeted Yusuf and narrated the dream to hilin. The ruler, in his dream, had seen seven fat cows emerging from the river, followed by seven weak ones. The weak cows devoured the fat ones. He then saw seven green and healthy ears of wheat followed by seven dry ones. The dry ones ate up the green ones.
Yusuf said that both the dreams had the same interpretation. The seven fat cows and the seven healthy ears consist of seven years during which the country would see high productivity. That would be followed by seven years of femine. Unless the years of high productivity were managed wisely, the years of femine would totally destroy the kingdom. He told the ruler that it would be prudent to save for the years of femine, for the femine would be wide spread.
The ruler carefully listened to the interpretation of his dreams by Yusuf, and he knew that it must be true. He called Yusuf back to his court and restored his position with full respect. Zulaikhah , by now had admitted her mistake.
Yusuf rises to the highest status in Egypt
The ruler made Yusuf the chief administrator of the country's produce. He gave Yusuf his ring that testified his total authority on his behalf. Yusuf was only thirty years of age at that time. He went straight to work and began the implementation of methods to enhance the produce. He built large graineries for storage.' He conserved resources over expenditure, in preparation for the bad times he had predicted.
Brothers of Yusuf in Egypt
As foretold, femine srtuck the land of Egypt as well as the lands affound Egypt. The news of the graineries of Egypt had already spread far and wide. People flocked to Egypt for jobs and food. Thus Egypt flourished with cheap labor even during the days of wide spread femine. This was a clear sign of the intelligence and foresight of Yusuf.
Like other lands, femine visited the land of Kin'an as well. Ya'qub sent his sons to Egypt to procure grain. When they came in the presence of Yusuf in their wretched attire, they could not recognise their own brother who was wearing his royal attire and had grown into handsome manhood. But Yusuf recognised them.
He gave them love,affection, shelter and food, but did not reveal his identity to them. He asked them about their family and they told him about his father who had lost his eye sight from crying over the loss of his beloved son. When they were leaving with grain. Yusuf insisted that they had to leave one of them as security. They must also bring their youngest brother when they return or else they would not be given additional grain. They had no choice and one of them had to stay in Egypt.
Yusuf's brothers returned to Egypt with their youngest brother Benyamin, who was his sibling from the same mother. They brought the price of the previous cargo, and gifts from their old and ailing father. The reminiscence of his childhood and separation from his beloved parents made Yusuf cry. He revealed his identity to his brothers and sent them back laden with gifts and grain. He invited them to come and live in Egypt, as the femine was to last for a few years.
They returned to Egypt with their parents as well as other members of their clan. They bowed to him as subjects do before the king. This indeed was the true interpretation of the dream that Yusuf had had as a child. Although his brothers had reacted to that dream with such cruelty, yet Yusuf paid them back with sympathy, love and forgiveness.
The death of Ya'qub
Ya'qub lived for seventeen years in Egypt before his death. He called his sons at his death bed and advised them on matters of their mutual benefit and wished that upon his death that his body should be carried back to Kin'an for burial near his forefathers. His wishes were carried out with royal ceremonials.
The death of Yusuf
Yusuf lived for one hundred and ten years. He was buried in Egypt according to the rituals of the land, and when Musa finally took the children of Israil out of Egypt, he took the coffin of Yusuf to Kin'an, to be buried alongside his ancestors.
References : al Qur'an: Sura Yusuf, Momin.
Sho'ayb was a direct descendant of Ibrahim from his later wife named Quturah. He was appointed prophet by Allah to the people of Midyan and Aykah, who lived on the east of Mount Sinai. He was the father-in-law of Musa, who had taken refuge with him after the Pharaoh of Egypt had banished him into the Sinai desert.
The people of Midyan and Aykah cheated on weights and measures.They waylaid caravans and were corrupt morally. They jeered at the teachings of Sho'ayb and challenged him to show them what he meant by the punishment of Allah, if indeed there was such a God. Their insolence reached such heights that Allah sent His wrath upon them which they had demanded.
The people of Midyan were destroyed by roaring thunder and violent earth quakes. The people of Aykah were covered with darkness that emitted fire, destroying most living beings. None except for a handful of true believers survived these calamities. References: al Qur'an: Sura Aaraf, Hud, Hajar, Shu'ra', and Ankaboot.