Religious Freedom and Abraham’s Idol-Bashing ?
Political Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

If the religion of Islam allows religious freedom, why did Abraham (sws) smash the idols of the idolaters?


The motive of Abraham (sws) in bashing the idols is the real barometer to judge whether Islam tolerates other religions or not. If his motive were that during his preaching phase he would forcibly stop his people from idol worship come what may -- then this would amount to intolerance. If this was not the motive, then of course it would be otherwise.

So, the bashing of the idols by Abraham (sws) must be understood in the correct Qur’ānic perspective. If we reflect on the various Qur’ānic verses that mention this episode, it becomes clear that the bashing was no bashing in the real sense. It was only meant to convince his people that the idols they were worshipping could not even defend themselves, and therefore could not save those who were worshipping them. So effective was this scheme that we come to know from the Qur’ān (21:64-5) that the people even realized their folly. However, as the later verses show they did not pay heed to this realization and decided to punish Abraham (sws) by throwing him into fire.


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