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Azar

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Azar
Religious Affiliation Idolater
Well-known Relatives The Prophet Abraham (a), Terah and Nimrud
Place of Birth village, Kawthi, in Sawad (today's Kufa)
Activities Nimrod's astronomer

Āzar (Arabic: آزر) was, according to the letter of the Qur'an, the father of the Prophet Abraham (a). However, Shiite exegetes and scholars provide evidence from hadiths, theology, and language to show that he was Abraham's paternal uncle or maternal grandfather.

According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), Azar was Nimrod's astronomer, who had prognosticated that a child will be born who will call people to a new religion. Thus, Nimrod commanded the separation of men and women and ordered that babies be killed. Azar is also said to be Nimrod's cousin (the son of his paternal uncle).

The Character

Azar was from the village, Kawthi, in Sawad (today's Kufa). Allegedly he was Nimrod's cousin. According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), he was Nimrod's astronomer, and before the birth of Abraham (a), he had prognosticated that a man will be born who will call people to another religion. Thus, Nimrod command that men and women be separated and newborn babies be killed. Azar was an idolater.

Abraham's Father or Paternal Uncle?

According to the letter of the Qur'an, Azar was Abraham's "ab" (father).[1] Thus, some exegetes such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi believe that Azar was Abraham's father. However, according to Tafsir-i Nimuna written by Nasir Makarim Shirazi, all Shiite exegetes and scholars believe that Azar was not Abraham's father.

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi maintained that Azar was Abraham's paternal uncle or maternal grandfather. He quoted Abu Ishaq al-Zajjaj as saying that there is no disagreement among genealogists that Abraham's father was Terah. He also cites a hadith from the Prophet (s) according to which none of the Prophet's ancestors up to Adam (a) were polytheists. Since Azar was an idolater and Abraham (a) was one of the Prophet's (s) ancestors, it is not possible for Azar to be Abraham's father.

Allama Tabataba'i, a contemporary Shiite philosopher and exegete, cites evidence to show that in Arabic, the word, "ab" is used to refer to someone who is in charge of things. Thus, a father, uncle, grandfather, father in law, and even the head of a tribe are referred to as "ab". In the Torah, Abraham's father is mentioned as Terah.

Moreover, some exegetes such as Allama Tabataba'i and Makarim Shirazi, have juxtaposed Abraham's refusal to ask for his "ab" (Azar) in the verse 114 of Qur'an 9[2] with his request for his "walid" or parent's forgiveness in the verse 41 of Qur'an 14,[3] and then inferred that Abraham's father was someone other than Azar. Thus, "ab" in the above verse means paternal uncle or maternal grandfather.

Abraham's Request for Azar's Forgiveness

According to verse 48 of Qur'an 19,[4] Abraham asked God to forgive Azar, whereas verse 113 of Qur'an 9[5] prohibits Muslims from asking for the forgiveness of polytheists. Thus, Allama Tabataba'i believes that Abraham's request for Azar's forgiveness was merely formal as it occurred in this world, and it is not an intercession in the afterlife. Makarim Shirazi believes that when Abraham (a) was disappointed about Azar's faith he no longer asked God to forgive him. Thus, the request was made when Abraham (a) was young and was fighting idolaters in Babylon.

Notes

  1. Qur'an 6:74: When Abraham said to Azar, his father, ‘Do you take idols for gods? Indeed I see you and your people in manifest error.’
  2. Qur'an 9:114: Abraham’s pleading forgiveness for his father was only to fulfill a promise he had made him. So when it became manifest to him that he was an enemy of God, he repudiated him. Indeed Abraham was most plaintive and forbearing.
  3. Qur'an 14:41: Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and all the faithful, on the day when the reckoning is held.’
  4. He said, ‘Peace be to you! I shall plead with my Lord to forgive you. Indeed, He is gracious to me.
  5. The Prophet and the faithful may not plead for the forgiveness of the polytheists, even if they should be [their] relatives, after it has become clear to them that they will be the inmates of hell.

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from آزر in Farsi Wikishia.