Ibrahim (as) and Lut (as) were contemporaries, sent to people who totally rejected Allah's deen for their society. Unlike societies prophets (anbiya) were sent to, where they organised social life in accordance to revelation with some aspects of revelation having become distorted or lost, messengers (rusul) were sent to societies that totally rejected revelation as the basis for social organisation.
The main target of the dawa of messengers then was seeking of power and authority to enable them to reorient society, its institutions and structures and thereby its members, in accordance with revelation. All of the conversations Messengers (as) show their main aim was the political domination and establishing the deen of Allah by transferring power to the messenger so that he could establish his deen in society.
Ibrahim (as) and Lut (as) were no different.
Ibrahim's (as) and Lut's (as) Dawa
The story of Ibrahim (as) is a key story in Islam as Allah ordered Muslims to take it as a model and follow him (Qur'an 3:95). Allah also promised Ibrahim (as) he would be the ideal model (imam) for people:
إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا
"Indeed, I will make you an ideal for people." (Qur'an 2:124)
What is better than following him in his approach of dawa?
He initially engaged his own nation seeking to establish a divine way of life that required authority and power to be fused with revelation over them:
وَاتۡلُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ نَبَاَ اِبۡرٰهِيۡمَۘ اِذۡ قَالَ لِاَبِيۡهِ وَقَوۡمِهٖ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ
"And recount to them the story of Abraham when he asked his father and his nation: "What do you serve?" (And then Abraham prayed): "My Lord, endow me with rule and join me with the righteous..." (Qur'an 26:69-75)
We find Ibrahim (as) engage with al-Namrud, the greatest power on earth at that time. Ibrahim (as) asked him to adopt the deen of Allah:
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَاجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رَبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ
"Have you not considered the one who argued with Ibrahim about his Lord (merely) because Allah had given him kingship?" (Qur'an 2:258)
Even when Ibrahim (as) was calling the people, there are many clues indicating they were the elites and leaders. For example, the conversation with his target audience narrated in the Qur'an goes like "… he said … they said (قالوا - qalu) .. etc." The pronoun 'they' refers to people of power as they would order others to do acts which were the prerogative of rulers:
قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا بِالْحَقِّ أَمْ أَنْتَ مِنَ اللَّاعِبِينَ … قَالُوا فَأْتُوا بِهِ عَلَى أَعْيُنِ النَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْهَدُونَ قَالُوا أَأَنْتَ فَعَلْتَ هَذَا بِآلِهَتِنَا يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ قَالَ بَلْ فَعَلَهُ كَبِيرُهُمْ هَذَا فَاسْأَلُوهُمْ إِنْ كَانُوا يَنْطِقُونَ ... قَالُوا حَرِّقُوهُ وَانْصُرُوا آلِهَتَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ فَاعِلِينَ
"They said, 'Have you come to us with truth, or are you of those who jest?' …
They said, 'Then bring him before the eyes of the people that they may testify.'
They said, 'Have you done this to our gods, O Ibrahim?'
He said, 'Rather, this - the largest of them - did it, so ask them if they are able to speak' …
They said, 'Burn him and support your gods - if you are to act.'" (Qur'an 21:55)
The people who were targeted in Ibrahim's (as) dawa were the people of power and authority. They were the ones ordering others to bring Ibrahim (as) and to collect the wood fire. It was narrated this fire was in front of al-Namrud's palace (al-Kashaf, Vol. 3, p. 126), so he and his officials would be the speakers in the above context.
Ibrahim (as) also prayed to Allah to provide him with a Muslim nation of his offspring:
رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِنَا أُمَّةً مُسْلِمَةً
"Our Lord, make us Muslims (who provide worship) to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation." (Qur'an 2:128)
Allah later mentions some of his offspring who all were religious leaders (prophets) and political leaders (kings):
وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَى وَهَارُونَ
"And among his descendants, Dawud and Sulayman and Ayub and Yusuf and Musa and Harun." (Qur'an 6:84)
All of the above were leading political figures in their societies. They were the people of imamate who judged by the law of Allah:
وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا
"And We made them leaders guiding (people) with Our command (or rule)." (Qur'an 21:73)
They ruled the people by the revelation of Allah as the famous mufassir Imam Qurtubi argued:
رُؤَسَاءَ يُقْتَدَى بِهِمْ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأَعْمَالِ الطَّاعَاتِ. وَمَعْنَى" بِأَمْرِنَا" أَيْ بِمَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ الْوَحْيِ وَالْأَمْرِ وَالنَّهْيِ
"They were (political) heads who were to be followed in their good deeds.
'With our command' means with what we revealed to them, such as the command and prohibition" (Qurtubi, Al-Jami Li-Ahkam al-Qur'an, Vol. 11, p. 305)
Similarly argued by Shawkani in his book "Fath al-Qadeer" (Vol. 3, p. 491).
Even Prophet Lut (as), who was a contemporary of Ibrahim (as), when persecuted by his people, prayed wishing to have a powerful authority and a strong shelter preventing them from harming him:
قَالَ لَوْ أَنَّ لِي بِكُمْ قُوَّةً أَوْ آوِي إِلَى رُكْنٍ شَدِيدٍ
"He said, 'If only I had against you power or could take refuge in a strong support'" (Qur'an 11:80)
Scholars and commentators unanimously agree he was seeking political and military support by this statement. They argue he sought the support of his clan (asheerah) and strong Ansar and followers (supporters to make him victorious). For example, Wahidi argued:
جَمَاعَةُ أَقْوَى بِهَا عَلَيكُمْ … أَوْ أَنَضُمُّ إِلَى عَشِيرَةِ تَنْصُرُنَّي ، وَشِيعَةٍ تَمْنَعَنَّي
"A group of people (jama'ah) makes me powerful over you. ... Or I join an asheerah that provides me with victory and a group of followers who will protect me." (Wahidi, al-Waseet fi al-Tafseer, Vol. 2, p. 583)
Imam Razi, as usual, articulates an exact, explicit and accurate meaning of the verse:
الْمَوْضِعُ الْحَصِينُ الْمَنِيعُ تَشْبِيهًا لَهُ بِالرُّكْنِ الشَّدِيدِ مِنَ الْجَبَلِ.
"The defendable and unreachable position, similar to the strong corner of the mountain." (Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, Vol. 18, p. 380)
This supporting power should provide us with fighting ability, as Qayrawani puts it:
"I would use it in (military) Jihad." (Qayrawani, al-Hidayah Ila Bulugh al-Nihayah, Vol. 11, p. 7098)
All these meaning were narrated in all the tafaseer I checked, see also for example: Tabari (Jami al-Bayan, Vol. 15, p. 419); Matrudi (Ta'weelat Ahl al-Sunnah, Vol. 6, p. 162); and Marudi (al-Nukat wa al-Uyun, Vol. 2, p. 490).
It indicates how important political support and authority were for him and the messengers, in order to protect and spread the deen of Allah.
Definitely, they did. The main aim of Ibrahim's and Lut's dawa, as well as the all the Messengers, was the political domination and the establishment of the deen of Allah in the society they were sent to. We find this conclusion very clear in their discussion with their nations.
Shawkani, Fath al-Qadeer
Qurtubi, Al-Jami Li-Ahkam al-Qur'an
Tabari, Jami al-Bayan
Matrudi, Ta'weelat Ahl al-Sunnah
Marudi, al-Nukat wa al-Uyun
Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb
Wahidi, al-Waseet fi al-Tafseer
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