“Indeed, there is for you an excellent example [uswatun husnatun] in Ibrahim and those with him.” (60:4)
In the above verse, Allah tells us that we have best examples to follow in Prophet Ibrahim and his companions. In fact, Allah commanded the Prophet Muhammad and all of us that we all MUST follow the Prophet Ibrahim:
Say: Allah speaks the Truth: follow the way of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans. (3:95)
Thus, it is incumbent upon us to follow the Prophet Ibrahim. The question is how do we follow him and his companions (remember they are all uswatun hasnah, or BEST EXAMPLES to be followed). The Qur’an does not point us to any other books that we must seek in order to follow the best example of Prophet Ibrahim. Does this mean that prophet muhammed and his companions could not follow prophet ibrahim and we ourselves at this age cannot follow prophet Ibrahim’s best examples?
It is important to ask a few other questions before addressing this point: We need to know what aspects of their best examples are we to follow. Are we to dress as prophet Ibrahim did? Are we supposed to mimic prophet ibrahim’s eating habits? Are we supposed to follow how prophet Ibrahim walked, shaved or sported beards, etc? Prophet Ibrahim probably wore the same clothing that was the norm in his time and probably sported a beard, as did his Kaffir father. Probably, he sat on the floor and ate with his hands, as did his Kaffir father. Are we supposed to follow these ‘examples’? Allah does not leave us guessing – He tells us the EXEMPLARY conduct of the Prophet Ibrahim in the Qur’an that we are supposed to follow.
The first act, of course is Submission to Allah alone: “Our Lord! And make us both submissive to Thee”. – (2:128)
And He bowed his will to the Command of Allah: “When his Lord said to him, Be a Muslim, he said: I submit myself to the Lord of the worlds”. – (2:131)
He also did not associate anyone or anything with Allah: “O my people! Surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah). Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of those who associate (other things with Allah)” – (6:76-79)
“He is also the one who is not afraid to tell the truth to his elders and scholars of his age: Lo! Abraham said to his father Az’har: Takest thou idols for gods? For, I see thee and thy people in manifest error”. – (6:74)
He was a good host: “And certainly Our messengers came to Ibrahim with good news. They said: Peace. Peace, said he, and he made no delay in bringing a roasted calf?” – (11:69)
Unlike many religious people today, he was not bloodthirsty. His first instinct was to forgive and give people more chance to mend their ways. Even to the homosexuals, he was merciful. When the Angels of Allah told him that they have come for the purpose of destroying Lot’s people, he started to plead with Allah on their behalf: “So when fear had gone away from Ibrahim and good news came to him, he began to plead with Us for Lot’s people. Most surely Ibrahim was forbearing, tender-hearted, oft-returning (to Allah)?” -(11:74-75)
Thus by reading the Qur’an we see a man who was intelligent, was serving only Allah and was seeking only Allah’s Guidance. He was not afraid to criticize the dominant philosophies, idea, and religions of his time, but at the same time, he was soft-hearted and merciful even to the sinners. This is the example, the best example, we are to follow and not to adopt what he wore, how he sat, to what length he grew his beard, etc.