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Terah

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Terah or Tārah (in Arabic: تارُخ [Tārukh] or تارَخ [Tārakh] or تارِخ [Tārikh]) is the name of the prophet Ibrahim (a)'s father. There are disagreements about Terah between the Bible and the Qur'an, and between Sunnis and Shi'as. Sunnis believe that Terah is the same "Azar" whose name is mentioned in Qur'an as an idolater. The Shi'as believe that Azar, was not Ibrahim's father because he was a polytheist; according to the Qur'an, Ibrahim asked God to forgive his parents, but it is contrary to monotheistic doctrines to ask God to forgive a polytheist.

In the Bible

According to the Bible, Terah was the father of Ibrahim[1] and was an idolater.[2]

In the Qur'an

The name, "Terah" or "Tarukh", does not appear in the holy Qur'an. The Qur'an refers to Azar as Ibrahim's "father" (Ab, Arabic: أب)[3].[4] In Arabic "ab" is called to someone who has the authority over someone else; so father, uncle, grandfather, father in law, and even the head of tribe is called "ab".[5] The meaning of "ab" in this verse is subject to disagreements.

Shiite View

The majority of Shiite exegetes take Azar to be Ibrahim's paternal uncle and Terah to be his father. They also believe that Terah was not a polytheist. After considering different alternatives, 'Allama Tabataba'i appealed to Quranic verses in which Ibrahim (a) prayed for his parents to show that Ibrahim's father was someone other than Azar. There are hadiths in which his father is said to be Terah, and this is confirmed by the Torah as well.[6]

Sunni View

The majority of Sunni scholars take the above Quranic verse at face value, holding that Ibrahim's father was Azar who was an idolater. In his exegesis of the verse 74 of Sura al-An'am, al-Fakhr al-Razi said that the verse shows that Ibrahim's father was Azar.[7]

Notes

  1. Luke 3:34.
  2. Joshua 24:3.
  3. When Abraham said to Azar, his ab, "Do you take idols as deities? Indeed, I see you and your people to be in manifest error." (Qur'an 6:74)
  4. Qurʾān, 6:74.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 7, p. 234.
  6. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 7, p. 261.
  7. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 13, p. 31.

References

  • Fakhr al-Rāzī, Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-. Mafātīḥ al-ghayb. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, [n.d].
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Tehran: Bunyād-i ʿIlmī wa Fikrī-yi ʿAllāma Ṭabāṭabāyī, 1370 Sh.