Allah tells us about His close Friend Ibrahim, peace be upon him, and how He bestowed upon him guidance aforetime, i.e., from an early age He inspired him with truth and evidence against his people, as Allah says elsewhere:
(And that was Our proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people) (6:83). The point here is that Allah is telling us that He gave guidance to Ibrahim aforetime, i.e., He had already guided him at an early age.
(and We were Well-Acquainted with him.) means, and he was worthy of that. Then Allah says:
(When he said to his father and his people: "What are these images, to which you are devoted'') This is the guidance which he had been given during his youth: his denunciation of his people's worship of idols instead of Allah. Ibrahim said:
("What are these images, to which you are devoted'') meaning, which you worship with such devotion.
(They said: "We found our fathers worshipping them.'') means, they had no other evidence apart from the misguided actions of their forefathers. Ibrahim said:
(Indeed you and your fathers have been in manifest error.) meaning, Speaking to your fathers whose actions you cite as evidence would be the same as speaking to you. Both you and they are misguided and are not following any straight path.' When he called their intelligence into question, and said that their fathers were misguided and belittled their gods,
(They said: "Have you brought us the Truth, or are you one of those who play about'') They said: `These words that you are saying, are you speaking in jest or are you telling the truth For we have never heard such a thing before.'
(He said: "Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who created them...'') meaning, your Lord, beside Whom there is no other god, is the One Who created the heavens and the earth and all that they contain; He is the One Who initiated their creation; He is the Creator of all things.
(and to that I am one of the witnesses. ) means, and I bear witness that there is no God other than Him and no Lord except Him.
(57. "And by Allah, I shall plot a plan for your idols after you have gone away and turned your backs.'') (58. So he broke them to pieces, except the biggest of them, that they might turn to it.) (59. They said: "Who has done this to our gods He must indeed be one of the wrongdoers.'') (60. They said: "We heard a young man talking against them, who is called Ibrahim.'') (61. They said: "Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may testify.'') (62. They said: "Are you the one who has done this to our gods, O Ibrahim'') (63. He said: "Nay, this one, the biggest of them did it. Ask them, if they can speak!'')
Then Ibrahim swore an oath, which some of his people heard, to plot against their idols, i.e., to break them and destroy them after they had gone away and turned their backs, when they went out to their festival. They had a festival which they would go out to celebrate. Abu Ishaq reported from Abu Al-Ahwas from `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud, "When the people of Ibrahim went out to celebrate their festival, they passed by him and said, `O Ibrahim, are you not coming out with us' He said, `I am sick.' '' It was only the day before that he had said,
(And by Allah, I shall plot a plan for your idols after you have gone away and turned your backs.) and some of the people had heard him.
(So he broke them to pieces,) means, he smashed them all, except for the biggest idol. This is like the Ayah,
(Then he turned upon them, striking (them) with (his) right hand) (37:93).
(that they might turn to it. ) It was said that he put a hammer in the hands of the biggest idol so that the people would think that it had become jealous on its own account and objected to these smaller idols being worshipped alongside it, so it had broken them.
(They said: "Who has done this to our gods He must indeed be one of the wrongdoers.'') When they came back and saw what Ibrahim had done to their idols, humiliating them and lowering their status, proving that they were not divine and that those who worshipped them were fools,
(They said: "Who has done this to our gods He must indeed be one of the wrongdoers.'') because of this action of his.
(They said: "We heard a young man talking against them, who is called Ibrahim.'') Those who had heard him swearing to plot against them said, we heard a young man talking about them, and they said that he was called Ibrahim.
(They said: "Then bring him before the eyes of the people...'') meaning, in front of a large audience so that all the people could be present. This was Ibrahim's ultimate purpose, so that he could tell this great gathering about the extent of their ignorance and how foolish they were to worship idols which could not defend themselves from harm or help themselves, so how could they ask them for help
(They said: "Are you the one who has done this to our gods, O Ibrahim'' He said: "Nay, this one, the biggest of them did it...'') referring to the one he had left alone and had not broken.
(Ask them, if they can speak!) He was hoping that they would admit of their own volition that these idols could not speak and that this idol would not say anything because it was inanimate. In the Two Sahihs it was recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said:
(Ibrahim, upon him be peace, did not tell lies except on three occasions, two for the sake of Allah -- when he said:
(Nay, this one, the biggest of them did it. ) and when he said:
(Verily, I am sick) (37:89).
. (and when he was traveling in the land of one of the tyrants, and Sarah was with him; when he made camp, a man came to the tyrant and said, "A man has made camp in your land and with him is a woman who is the most beautiful of people.'' The tyrant sent for Ibrahim, and asked him, "What is the relationship of this woman to you'' He said, "She is my sister.'' The tyrant said, "Go and send her to me.'' So Ibrahim went to Sarah and said, "This tyrant asked me about you, and I told him that you are my sister, so do not let him think that I am lying. For you are indeed my sister according to the Book of Allah, and there are no Muslims on the earth apart from you and I.'' So Ibrahim brought her to him, then he stood and prayed. When she entered upon the tyrant, he reached for her desirously once he saw her. But he suffered a severe seizure. So he said, "Pray to Allah for me and I will not harm you.'' So she prayed for him and it released him. Then he reached for her desirously, but he was stricken similarly before or worse. This continued three times, and each time he said the same as he had said the first time. Then he called the closest of his guards and said, "You have not brought me a human being, you have brought me a devil! Take her out and give her Hajar. So she was taken out and given Hajar, and she went back. When Ibrahim realized that she had come back, he finished his prayer and turned around. He said, "What happened'' She said, "Allah took care of the evil disbeliever's plot, and he gave me Hajar as a servant.'') Muhammad bin Sirin said, "When Abu Hurayrah narrated this Hadith, he said, `This is your mother, O sons of the water of the heaven.' ''
(64. So they turned to themselves and said: "Verily, you are the wrongdoers.'') (65. Then they turned to themselves: "Indeed you know well that these speak not!'') (66. He said: "Do you then worship besides Allah, things that can neither profit you nor harm you'') (67. "Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense'')
Allah tells us that when Ibrahim said what he said, his people
(turned to themselves) meaning, they blamed themselves for not taking precautions and protecting their gods. They said:
(Verily, you are the wrongdoers) i.e., because you neglected them and did not guard them.
(Then they turned to themselves) means, they looked at the ground, and said:
(Indeed you (Ibrahim) know well that these speak not!) Qatadah said: "The people admitted their guilt and confusion, and said,
("Indeed you know well that these speak not!'') `So how can you tell us to ask them, if they cannot speak and you know that they cannot speak' At this point, when they admitted that, Ibrahim said to them:
(Do you then worship besides Allah, things that can neither profit you nor harm you) meaning, if they can- not speak and they can neither benefit you nor harm you, then why do you worship them instead of Allah
(Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense) `Do you not realize the extent of the mis- guidance and extreme disbelief which you are following, which no one could accept but one who is an igno- rant and evil wrong- doer' He defeated them in argument and left them with no way out. Allah said:
(And that was Our proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people) (6:83)
(68. They said: "Burn him and help your gods, if you will be doing.'') (69. We said: "O fire! Be you cool and safety for Ibrahim!'') (70. And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.)
When their arguments were refuted and their incapability became clear, when truth was made manifest and falsehood was defeated, they resorted to using their power and strength, and said:
("Burn him and help your gods, if you will be doing.'') So they gathered together a huge amount of wood. As-Suddi said, "I if a woman was sick, she would make a vow that if she recovered she would bring wood to burn Ibrahim. Then they made a hole in the ground and set it aflame, and it burned with huge sparks and immense flames. There had never been a fire like it. They put Ibrahim, peace be upon him, into a catapult, at the suggestion of a nomadic Kurdish man from Persia.'' Shu`ayb Al-Jaba'i said, "His name was Hayzan, and Allah caused the earth to swallow him up, and he will remain sinking into it until the Day of Resurrection. When they threw him he said, `Sufficient for me is Allah, and He is the best disposer of affairs.' '' This is similar to what Al-Bukhari recorded from Ibn `Abbas that Ibrahim said, "`Sufficient for me is Allah, and He is the best disposer of affairs,'' when he was thrown into the fire, and Muhammad said it when they said:
(Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them. But it increased them in faith, and they said: "Allah is sufficient for us, and He is the best disposer of affairs.'') (3:173). Sa`id bin Jubayr reported that Ibn `Abbas said: "When Ibrahim was thrown into the fire, the keeper (angel) of the rain said: `When will I be commanded to send rain' But the command of Allah was more swift. Allah said:
(O fire! Be you cool and safety for Ibrahim!), and there was no fire left on earth that was not extinguished.'' Ibn `Abbas and Abu Al-`Aliyah said: "Were it not for the fact that Allah said,
(and safety), Ibrahim would have been harmed by its coldness.'' Qatadah said: "On that day there was no creature that did not try to extinguish the fire for Ibrahim, except for the gecko.'' Az-Zuhri said: "The Prophet commanded that it should be killed, and called it a harmful vermin.''
(And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.) they were defeated and humiliated, because they wanted to plot against the Prophet of Allah, but Allah planned against them and saved him from the fire, and thus they were defeated.
(71. And We rescued him and Lut to the land which We have blessed for the nations.) (72. And We bestowed upon him Ishaq, and Ya`qub Nafilatan. Each one We made righteous.) (73. And We made them leaders, guiding by Our command, and We revealed to them the doing of good deeds, performing Salah, and the giving of Zakah, and of Us (Alone) they were the worshippers.) (74. And (remember) Lut, We gave him wisdom and knowledge, and We saved him from the town who practised Al-Khaba'ith. Verily, they were a people given to evil, and were rebellious.) (75. And We admitted him to Our mercy; truly, he was of the righteous.)