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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)[1]. Allegedly he was Nimrod's cousin[2]. According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), he was Nimrod's astronomer[3] , 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[4].

Abraham's Father or Paternal Uncle?

According to the letter of the Qur'an, Azar was Abraham's "ab" (Arabic: الأب, there is a disagreement over the meaning of "ab", however, one meaning is progenitor).[5] Thus, some exegetes such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi believe that Azar was Abraham's father[6]. However, according to Tafsir-i Nimuna written by Nasir Makarim Shirazi, all Shiite exegetes and scholars believe that Azar was not Abraham's father[7].

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[8]. He also cites a hadith from the Prophet (s) according to which none of the Prophet's ancestors up to Adam (a) were polytheists[9]. 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[10].

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"[11]. In the Torah, Abraham's father is mentioned as Terah[12].

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[13] with his request for his parent's forgiveness in the verse 41 of Qur'an 14,[14] and then inferred that Abraham's father was someone other than Azar. Thus, "ab" in the above verse means paternal uncle or maternal grandfather[15].

Abraham's Request for Azar's Forgiveness

According to verse 48 of Qur'an 19,[16] Abraham asked God to forgive Azar[17], whereas verse 113 of Qur'an 9[18] 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. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʾ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 159.
  2. Balʾamī, Tārikhnama Ṭabarī, vol. 2, p. 882.
  3. Kulaynī, Al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 366-67; Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 206-207.
  4. Kulaynī, Al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 366-67; Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 206-207.
  5. 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.’
  6. Muṣṭafawī, Al-Tahqīq fī kalimāt al-Qur'ān al-karīm, vol. 1, p. 76; .
  7. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 303.
  8. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 4, pp. 175-76.
  9. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 4, p. 175.
  10. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 4, p. 175; also see: Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, pp. 303-307.
  11. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 7, pp. 164-65.
  12. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 7, p. 162; the Bible, Book of Genesi, 11:26.
  13. 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.
  14. Qur'an 14:41: Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and all the faithful, on the day when the reckoning is held.’
  15. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 7, pp. 164-65; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, pp. 304-305.
  16. He said, 'Peace be to you! I shall plead with my Lord to forgive you. Indeed, He is gracious to me.
  17. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 304.
  18. 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

  • Balʾamī, Muḥammad. Tārikhnama Ṭabarī. Edited by Muḥammad Rawshan. Second edition. Tehran: Surūsh, 1378 Sh.
  • Fakhr al-Rāzī, Muḥammad b. al-ʿUmar al-. Mafātīḥ al-ghayb (al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr). Third edition. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1420 AH.
  • Khwaja ʾAbd Allāh Anṣārī. Munājātnāma. Edited by Muḥammad Ḥammaṣiyān. Kerman: Intishārāt-i Khadamāt-i Farhangī Kirmān, 1382 Sh.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Edited by ʿAlī Akbar Ghaffārī & Muḥammad Ākhūndī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1407 AH.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. First edition. Tehran: Dār al-
  • Muṣṭafawī, Ḥasan. Al-Tahqīq fī kalimāt al-Qur'ān al-karīm. Tehran: Bungāh tarjuma wa nashr-i kitāb, 1360 Sh.
  • Qummī, ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm al-. Tafsīr al-Qummī. Edited by Ṭayyib Mūsawī Jazāʾrī. Qom: Dār al-Kitāb, 1367 Sh.
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Jāmiʾ al-bayān ʿan taʾwīl āyāt al-Qurʾān. First edition. Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa, 1412 AH.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Fifth edition. Qom: Daftar-i Intishārāt-i Islāmī , 1417 AH.
  • Ṭurayḥī, Fakhr al-Dīn b. Muḥammad al-. Majmaʿ al-baḥrayn. Edited by Sayyid Ahmad Husayni. Tehran: al-Maktaba al-Murtaḍawīyya, 1375 Sh.
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Aḥmad Qaṣīr al-ʿĀmilī. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, [n.d].
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Amālī. Edited by Muʾassisat al-Biʿtha. Qom: Dār al-Thiqāfa li-ṭibaʿat wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawzīʿ, 1414 AH.