The following are five observations on Prophet Ibrahim’s dialogue with his polytheistic father. The dialogue is featured in the Quranic surah (chapter) Maryam, verses (ayat) 41-48.
Rationality versus Irrationality
While conversing with his father, Ibrahim resorts to logic and reason. The father did not believe in One God, so invoking Heaven and the revelation was of no use. The father’s intelligence was Ibrahim’s best chance.
The revelation and reason do not contradict, nor challenge, each other. Rather, they complement one another in enlightening and guiding man to the fulfilment of his honorable earthly purpose.
Ibrahim knew that there is nothing more sensible and more consistent than the truth, while at the same time there is nothing more illogical and inconsistent than falsehood.
The truth, presented by the revelation and guarded by reason, is irresistible. Falsehood, which not only defies logic, but also the natural order of things, stands no chance against such force. It does not even come close.
That is an obvious reality for whoever has eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts (intelligence) to understand:
Could there be any doubt about the existence of God who has created the heavens and the earth? (Ibrahim, 10).
Ibrahim thus says to his father that it is incomprehensible that he took idols as gods, which could not hear, nor see, nor bring a benefit. Ibrahim as a prophet and a man of truth – yet his son – was right there with him calling him to see, comprehend and embrace the truth, and to follow a way that was sensible, even and straight.
Ibrahim also asked him to reject crookedness, deceit and blind following, for they were the sources of all evil. The father needed urgent help and a sense of direction. Ibrahim was there for him. Almighty God was there for both of them.
Ibrahim wanted his father to be free and make free and reasonable choices. Indeed, if a person’s senses are liberated and enlightened, in no way could he ever worship dead matter in lieu of the Most Gracious God, nor could he follow his own or somebody else’s fancies instead of the heavenly guidance revealed by the Creator of the universe.
However, Ibrahim’s father did not heed the counsels. He was so blinded by pagan arrogance and the worship of brute force and matter that he persisted in bartering truth for falsehood, rationality for irrationality, and reason for inflated and misguided emotions. His intelligence was paralyzed and malfunctioning, making his choices unsound and faulty.
In that manner, the father was the devil incarnate. Ibrahim thus warned him that a painful chastisement may afflict him, and that he may become to Satan a friend and an ally.
The myopic father was able to see in Ibrahim just a person who wanted him to desist from his old ways, without understanding why. He did not even try to understand why.
Consumed by spiritual insecurity and antagonism, the father constructed a veil of mistrust and miscommunication between him and his son. They were not on the same wavelength.
The father could simply reply to all the emphatic advices and justifications of his son:
Do you reject (hate) my gods? (Maryam, 46)
He did not say more, for he was not in a position to conjure anything sensible in the face of the intensity and profundity of the heavenly counsels of Ibrahim. His best shot was to stubbornly and insolently remain quite, and whenever necessary, to say as little as possible. The more he spoke, the more he could reveal his weaknesses and the impotence of his standpoint.
The father was capable of seeing only himself and the world of his selfish interests. He was neither ready, nor willing, to be elevated to a higher vantage point whence he could see things differently and make more appropriate judgements.
He was forever trapped in the lowliness of matter and self-regard. In such a state, reason and logic are unwelcome companions.