Page images
PDF
EPUB

form in which he cuts off the infidels. Then was Abraham seized with dreadful horror; his limbs trembled under him, and he almost gave up the ghost. Then he said, I know and see who it is that hath commissioned thee. Return then unto him,

Then the angel ascended to heaven again, and received commission to deal gently with Abraham in taking away his life. So he came unto him at vintage-time, in the guise of a very old man. Abraham, beholding him, had compassion on him. Taking, therefore, a basket, he gathered some grapes therein, and, coming up, placed them before him, saying, Eat! So the old man began to seem as though he ate and masticated; but it all flowed over his beard and breast. Abraham was surprised, and said, Is nothing left unto thee? How many years are upon thee? So the old man, in a weak voice, said, So many years. Then said Abraham, I have almost arrived at that

age. I never wish to be in this condition. Therefore, O Lord ! take me to thyself! Then Abraham gently breathed forth his soul, and the angel of death seized his spirit on that instant.

It is said also, that the angel of death said unto Abraham, O Abraham! I have coinmandment to seize thy life. He then said, Grant me a delay, until Isaac be born, and be strong. And when at length the angel came to him, he found them both so closely embraced that they could not be separated. Therefore the angel returned unto the Lord, and said, O Lord! I saw thy friend in grief, on account of his approaching death. Then said the Lord, O angel of death! go unto my friend in his sleep; which he did, and took away his life. Thus Abraham died without contempt and without disease. Abraham, David, and Solomon died, it is said, suddenly. This death is pleasant for believers, but dreadful for infidels. It is a mark of clemency and compassion to Godfearing believers, graciously arranged by God. When Abraham, it is said, came unto his Lord, the latter said, O Abraham ! how didst thou find death? He said, O Lord! I found my breath gently drawn out, smoothly and softly as butter. So he said, We tamed and softened death for thee, O Abraham!

On the day of judgment, Abraham shall be first clothed, on account of his friendship with God; then Muhammad for his apostleship; then Alí. Between Abraham and myself, said Muhammad, there shall be a flash of lightning, whirling us, like a furious wind, to Paradise. Abrałam, on the day of judgment, shall first be clothed in fine Egyptian linen : Muhammad shall come with naked feet, uncovered, alone. Both he and

Abraham shall then, by God's command, be clothed in white raiment. Muhammad shall then be placed on a glorious seat, in front, where all the first and all the last shall look on him with wistful admiration. All men, on the day of judgment, shall rise naked-footed and uncovered. Abraham shall be the first arrayed; then Muhammad ; then all men, according to their stations and rank (in piety).—So much for this matter.

CHAPTER XII.

his son.

Account of Abraham's temptation regarding the sacrifice of

Account of the age of Isaac, and the age of his father and mother when he was born. History of Jacob, and his age. Also some part of the history of Joseph; his beauty ; length of his separation from his father Jacob; duration of his residence in a foreign land; his sepulchre; and the space of time which intervened between him and Moses.

Know that God Almighty, in order to exalt the Friend, sent him various temptations, particularly that respecting the stars, which he was tempted to adore. But, having escaped from all these, he arrived, as has been already mentioned, at a most glorious degree of prosperity in this world, and rank in heaven. All this has been already described. After all these things, God gave him, of his favour, a son. This son, having arrived at a set age, and beginning to intermingle with his heart, he was then tempted to sacrifice him. He immediately obeyed the command, and hastened, without hesitation, to perform his duty, not swerving therefrom. He said therefore unto his son, O my son! I have seen a dream which directs me to sacrifice thee. Consider, then, what is thy opinion. Isaac said, O my father ! do as thou art commanded. Thou shalt find me patient and submissive, please God! Now Abraham had proposed this question to prove

Isaac's docility and submission to God, not as wishing to set his opinion against God's command. But when both were ready, two goats fell down on the earth, and a voice was heard, exclaiming, O Abraham! I declare, of a truth, that for this deed blessings shall flow upon thee. Then he (God) redeemed him with a great offering, and blessed him (Abraham) and his son in both worlds, and added unto Isaac the joyful rank of a prophet, choosing from their race the prophet-apostles. Some difference of opinion, however, exists, as to the question, which young man was commanded to be sacrificed—Isaac or Ishmaël. Some

say

that the words of the Korán, “ We give him the joyful tidings of a son,” certainly referring to Isaac, and certainly uttered after the sacrifice, prove that Isaac was the youth intended to be offered. The Khalif Omar-Abdul-Aziz, however, asked a cer

« PreviousContinue »