In Quran, the personality ibrahim is second only to musa in terms of frequency. Like musa, he has unique attributes embodied in terms in Quran. For example, the phrase ‘deeni haneefa’ or the power relations which is fully curved towards Allah (meaning it is fully grounded, fully real). Ibrahim also is mentioned with his progeny, symbolically referring to the proliferation of his ideology. Apart from that, ibrahim is also mentioned with the asnaam or images, the forms which become deified in society.
In this essay, we will examine the only occurrence in Quran where ibrahim is mentioned as ‘his shi’a’ or contextually speaking, nuh’s party. This occurrence is in in Ch 37 Vs 83-84. This is not only unique for ibrahim but in the entire Quran, there are no other verses calling a Quranic personality as ‘shi’a’ of another. This shows the intimacy between the personalities of nuh and ibrahim.
Why is this the case? We must remember than each personality in Quran is mentioned with specific attribute in order to show readers realities of human existence. We have mentioned some unique attributes of ibrahim’s story but what about nuh?
Nuh’s story is unique in a number of ways but according to the context (37/75-83) , ibrahim is called the party of nuh right after nuh was saved and his people drowned. This is no coincidence. It shows that the method which ibrahim pursued is founded upon the principle of nuh. That is why he is said to be the ‘party of nuh’. What is the principle of nuh?
Nuh’s call to his people is key to understanding his principle. He is famously known to call his people to build the ark. Through this ark, he and those with him are saved from the flood. Symbolically, the ark refers to a mobile and robust means of survival. It is interesting that this is the first sign of what is ‘islam’ – to survive. We are operationalizing the principle of nuh when we take the appropriate measures (within nuh’s parameters) to survive. In other words, we are to build our own metaphorical ark.
It is upon this principle that ibrahim is mentioned. In his story in this chapter (37/83- 113). He builds his own ‘ark’ by approaching Allah with a sound heart, questioning the delusions of his people, leaving them and finally realizing the vision of a utopian society.