« PreviousContinue »
knowledge thereof, and he invited the world to truth by the tongue of correct argument from youth to age, according to the Word, “This is our argument and proof; that which Abraham brought unto his people.” He was the first whom God named the Orthodox. He first began to entreat and invite the Jews and Christians, which is testified by the Word, “ Abraham was neither Jew nor Christian, but an orthodox Musalmán.” He was not a Trinitarian. He is the Guardian of all Moslem youth, and Prince of the people of Paradise in its whole extent. He built the Kaaba; he first broke idols, and set up the worship of God, and raised the dead by his prayer. He, on the day of judgment, shall first put on a white robe, and be placed on a pulpit to the left of the General Assembly. He is said to have been the first who preached in a pulpit or held a staff. He is the best of prophets, and his people the most excellent of people, if they follow his injunctions.
Abraham is said to have lived 195, 175, or 200 years. Between him and Noah elapsed 1142 years. Between his birth and the Hijra of the Prophet intervened 2932 years. Abraham is said to have visited Mecca three times, and to have invited men to perform the pilgrimage on the last occasion of his doing so. They obeyed him; and
the first who did so was Jurham, Prince of the Amalekites. They became Moslems; and Abraham, returning to Syria, died, aged 200 years. When the angel of death came in to cut off his breath, he saluted Abraham ; which salutation Abraham returning, said, Who art thou ? He replied, I am the angel of death, and am about to kill thee. Then Abraham wept until his son Isaac heard his weeping, and, coming in, said, O friend of God! wherefore weepest thou? Because, he said, here is the angel of death who wishes to take away my life. Then Isaac wept until his weeping exceeded his father's. The angel of death then departed to God, and said, O God! thy servant Abraham grieves deeply at death. Then said God, O Gabriel! take some sweet herb (odoriferous basil) of Paradise, and set off with it unto him, and revive him therewith, and say, “Truly it is now a long time that friend has been separated from friend. Long hast thou been divided from thy friend !” Gabriel then came and delivered the message of his Lord, and presented the sweet herb. Then said Abraham, It is true, I have long been separated from thy friend. Then, smelling the herb, he took it in his hand, and said, I will gladly go when God willeth. When God willeth, let him take Abraham.
The angel of death was sent unto him in the form of a very old man; and it is said that Abraham once gave a very great entertainment, of which numbers partook. Whilst they were feasting, an old man was seen walking in the outward enclosure. Abraham therefore sent out an ass to fetch him, which carried him to the table; and when the old man took up a mouthful and put it into his mouth, it came out at his eyes and ears.
Then he put it into his mouth again, and made it enter his belly ; but it came out behind. Now Abraham had entreated of God, that his life never should be taken until he himself asked it. He said therefore unto the old Shaikh, when he saw his condition, Wherefore doest thou this ? He replied, Because I am very old. Then said Abraham, How, old ? So he told him his age, which was twenty years above Abraham's. Then said Abraham, There are twenty years between me and thee. When, therefore, I arrive at thy age, shall I be like thee? He said, Certainly. Then said Abraham, O God, take me to thyself before this. Then the old man rose up and cut off his spirit; for he was the angel of death. God's peace and blessing be upon them both !
There are other versions of this story. Abraham, it is said, was always given to hospitality,
compassionate unto the poor and wayfaring men. Once it was very late, and no guests had arrived, so that he began to be scandalized, feeling uncertain whether any would come. At this, he went out to seek some hungry person. And there passed him the angel of death in man's form. After mutual salutations, Abraham said, Who art thou? He replied, Awayfaring man. So Abraham said, Why should one like you remain here? Come along. So he went with him unto his abode ; and Isaac saw him, and, knowing him, began to weep; which when Sarah saw, she wept also. Then the angel went up to heaven.. When, therefore, Abraham arrived at the upper chamber, he was enraged, and said, Wherefore did you weep in the guest's face, so that he hath departed hence? Then said Isaac, Blame me not, O my father! I saw the angel of death with thee. Then Abraham gave him a. certain command and injunction (to be silent). Now Abraham bad a certain pavilion, wherein he adored God, and which none entered but himself; and whenever he went forth, he locked the door. When, then, Abraham came to open the door, he saw a man sitting: He said, Who art thou ? and wherefore hast thou entered my house? He replied, By permission of the Lord of the Pavilion have I entered. Then said Abraham, The Lord
of the Pavilion has the full right thereto. Then Abraham, going to one corner of the pavilion, prayed therein as he was accustomed to do. Then the angel of death ascended again, and when he was asked, What didst thou behold ? he said, O Lord! I have just come from the devotions of thy servant. Surely, in the whole earth, there can be no one so good as he. There is not a single one of thy creatures for whom he omitted to pray, supplicating for them peaceful quietness, and the enjoyment of all the happiness of life.
After this, Abraham still lived an additional space; as long as it pleased God. But, upon a time, again opening the door of his oratory, he saw a man sitting, who said that he was the angel of death. Then said Abraham, If thou be really So, show me a sign whereby I may know that thou art the angel of death. Then he said, Turn aside thy face, O Abraham! Which having done, the angel said again, Turn round now thy face, and look; which doing, he beheld him in the form which he assumes when he takes away the lives of believers--a form of such surpassing light and brilliancy as God alone can comprehend. Then he said, Now turn aside thy face, O Abraham! which having done, the angel said, Turn it in front. And then Abraham beheld him in the