In many instances in the Qur’an, Prophet Ibrahim (as) showed the best forms of bara’ah (disassociation). It goes to the extent that Allah (swt) says that there is a “good example” in what Ibrahim (as) has done.
Allah (swt) says:
قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ
There has already been for you a good example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, “Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah . We have rejected you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone” … (60:4)
A few things to note about this ayah:
1. The Arabic word uswa [أُسْوَة] (“model”) is cognate with ta’assi (“following, emulation”). Allah (swt) makes clear that this example is something that we should accept as good and worthy of emulating and following.
Imam Hussain (as) is narrated as saying that he is the model in struggling against the enemies of the Islamic faith (Ref: Ibn Mikhnaf’s Maqtal).
Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his arrival) is quoted as saying: وفي ابنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله لي أسوة حسنة or “The Messenger of Allah’s (sawa) daughter, Hadhrat Zahra’ is my perfect model.” (1)
2. The ayah says “and those with him”, so not only was Prophet Ibrahim (as) saying the following, but it was his Shi’a also. It designates the believers, limited in number, who followed him in worshiping God Almighty and disassociation from the others.
3. In إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنكُمْ (disassociated from you) we see the disassociation is not just from the action, but the disassociation was from the individuals themselves who had become an embodiment of the evil actions. Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) says فَاعِلُ الْخَيْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ، وَفَاعِلُ الشَّرِّ شَرٌّ مِنْهُ or ” The doer of good is better than the good itself, and the doer of evil is worse than the evil itself.” (2)
4. The reason for this disassociation stems from their actions, which is shirk/polytheism. The disassociation extends across to those idols also.
5. further to this disassociation, the Prophet (as) and his followers rejected them. The words being كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ. Kaffarna comes from the root word كفر which means to cover, or conceal. كفر also shares the meaning of disbelief and ungratefulness. The meaning behind this line could be that not only are we disassociated and free from you and your actions, but we completely reject them just as we reject falsehood and disbelief in Allah (swt).
6. An important point here is that with disassociation, Hatred and Animosity becomes a result or consequence, that is ever lasting. As for hatred, the word used is عَدَاوَةُ which shares the meaning of a strong enemy. As for the word used for hatred, it is بَغْضَاءُ. We find the word بَغْضَ used by Allah (swt) in strong cases, and when we look at the lexicon dictionary we find it had such a strong emotion attached to it, that it is often seen as the opposite of love. For example below is an extract from Lanes Lexicon dictionary:
7. Finally, we see the condition and the doors of mercy and repentance in the last part of the statement: “until you believe in Allah alone.” Should they change their ways and have belief in the one God and disassociate from the Idols, then the animosity and hatred would disappear and would be brothers with the Prophet (as) and his Shi’a, as Allah (swt) says:
فَإِن تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ ۗ وَنُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ
But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know. (9:11)
Back to (60:4), there is a hadith regarding the tafseer of this ayah which is worth looking at:
‘Abu Ja’far (as) regarding the Words of the High [60:7] It may be that Allah will Bring about cordiality between you and those whom you hold to be your enemies among them; and Allah is Powerful; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful, he (as) said: ‘Allah has Commanded His Prophet (sawa) and the Believers to distance themselves from those people so long as they are Infidels’.
And the Words of the High [60:4] Indeed, there is for you a good example in Ibrahim and those with him when they said to their people: Surely we distance ourselves from you and what you are worshiping besides Allah; We deny you – the (rest of the) Verse. Allah Mighty and Majestic Cut-off the friendship of the Believers from them and Manifested the enmity to them, so He Said [60:7] It may be that Allah will Bring about cordiality between you and those whom you hold to be your enemies among them.
So when the people of Makkah became Muslims, the companions of Rasool-Allah (sawa) inter-mingled with them and inter-married. And Rasool-Allah (sawa) married Umm Habeeb, daughter of Abu Sufyan bin Harb. Then He Said [60:8] Allah does not Forbid you – to the end of two Verses’. (3)
Also, in a long hadith in al-Kafi:
“Once I said to abu ‘Abd Allah (as) ‘Instruct me about the kinds of disbelief (mentioned) in the book of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy.’ The Imam said, ‘Disbelief in the book of Allah is of five kinds:
“The fifth kind of disbelief is disbelief in the form of disassociation as in the words of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy, quoting Ibrahim (Abraham), ‘We have rejected you. Enmity and hatred will separate us forever unless you believe in Allah only. . . .’ (60:4) This is disassociation. (4)
This was not the only time Prophet Ibrahim (as) made disassociation from the mushrikeen (polytheists). We also see this in Surah al-An`aam:
فَلَمَّا رَأَى الشَّمْسَ بَازِغَةً قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّي هَٰذَا أَكْبَرُ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَتْ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ
And when he saw the sun rising, he said, “This is my lord; this is greater.” But when it set, he said, “O my people, indeed I am free from what you associate with Allah . (6:78)
And also Surah al-Zukhruf:
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ إِنَّنِي بَرَاءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ
And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham said to his Ab and his people, “Indeed, I am disassociated from that which you worship (43:26)
Now here we find one of the fascinating linguistics being used in the Qur’an. in Surah al-an’aam the word used is بَرِيء or “baree'”. This means to be free or have disassociated. The word is an verb or adjective, and the one who is بَرِيء is absolved from a thing. Literally, it is translated as “I am disassociated from what you worship.” What is fascinating, however, is the word used in surah al-Zukhruf. The word used is the noun “بَرَاء” .. now baraa’ is NOT someone who is disassociated (adjective) but rather it IS disassociation ITSELF.
Basically, to literally translate, it would be: “Indeed, I am disassociation from that which you worship.” Now how does that make sense?
It is like someone who wants to show that he is brave, he should say: “I am brave.” Now if he wants to emphasize this and make a stronger point of his bravery, he will say: “I AM Bravery”… now this may not make sense linguistically, unless the meaning behind the phrase is to show that he is the epitome and encapsulation of the concept and idea of bravery as a whole.
It would be similar to someone trying to express how fast they are, to say “i AM speed”.. below we see a video from Cars 2, where lightning McQueen didn’t say “I am fast” or “I am speedy”.. he says: “I am speed”
Subhanallah, we see the message Allah (swt) is trying to express here is that in one instance, Prophet Ibrahims (as) disassociation reached a level such that Ibrahim (as) expresses it in such a manner that he epitomizes the concept as a whole.. “I AM disassociation from what you worship”.. From the early moments of introducing Tawheed to his people, and saying “I disassociate”.. his message evolved to the point he became the epitome if disassociation “I AM disassociation”..
May we take from the good example of Prophet Ibrahim (as)