14:35 And when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this land secure, and keep me and my sons away from worshiping idols.”
In this verse Abraham asked two things from the Real: First, Mecca’s security from mastery by enemies, and second, the heart’s security from domination by the ruling power of caprice. He said, “Lord God, make this city of Mecca into a secure sanctuary far from the hand of any tyrant and free of fear for all the people.” The Lord of the Worlds responded to his supplication and made it into a blessed sanctuary and a place of security, as He says, “[And when We made the House] a place of gathering for the people, and a sanctuary” [2:125]. Never will the hand of any tyrant reach it; whoever goes into the sanctuary—whether Adamite or non-Adamite, wild prey or bird of the air—will have no fear.
He asked for the heart’s security in terms of allusion with his words, “Keep me and my sons away from worshiping idols.” Whenever something holds you back from the Real, that is your idol. Whenever your heart inclines and looks to something other than the Real, that is your caprice. The Exalted Lord says, “Hast thou seen him who has taken his caprice as his god?” [25:43]. One person looks to property and trade, another to wife and children, another to position and respect. One person has remained in the bonds of venerating piety and self-restraint and has not taken a step beyond that. Another has made obedience and worship his kiblah—looking at it and leaning on it have become the veil of his road.
The Lord of the Worlds says, “And repent all together to God, O you who have faith! Perhaps you will prosper [24:31]. O you who have faith, if you want Me to make your hearts the sanctuary of My gaze and to keep you secure from the veil of severance, turn your faces totally to Me and turn away from everything else!” Sometimes He calls to His road with the tongue of the artifacts to make people realize familiarity. Sometimes He calls to Himself with the tongue of unveiling to confirm friendship.
He is saying: “Turn away from yourself and totally to Him so as to recognize what is rightfully due to Him. Look beyond your own obedience and see His favor. Be released from your own existence and taste His friendship.” This is what Abraham meant when he said, “Keep me and my sons away from worshiping idols!”
In explaining this verse Jaʿfar Ṣādiq said, “Do not push me back to witnessing bosom friendship, and do not push my children back to witnessing prophethood.” Lord God! You have given me bosom friendship. Turn my eyes away from it so that I will not see it from myself. You have given my children prophethood. Do not attach their eyes to seeing their own activities or themselves. Ibn ʿAṭāʾ said, “He commanded Abraham to build the Kaabah. He built it as commanded, completed it, and then said, ‘Our Lord, accept it from us!’ [2:147].
“A rebuke came: ‘I commanded you to build the house, and then you lay favor on Me for doing so? I gave you the success to do it. Are you not ashamed to lay favor on Me and say, “Accept it from us”? You have forgotten My favor toward you and mentioned your own act and favor.’
“Because of the harshness of this rebuke Abraham supplicated, ‘Keep me and my sons away from worshiping idols! Lord God, in the road of my bosom friendship and my children’s prophethood, seeing our own activity and ascribing it to ourselves are idols that lie in ambush for us. By Your gentleness, remove these idols from the road and remove our being from the midst! Keep on bestowing Your favor upon us!’”
It has also been said that Abraham was a traveler to perfection, but he had not yet reached the guise of stability beyond variegation. He was stuck between the gentleness of the Real and the poverty of his own soul. When he looked at the Real’s gentleness he saw a field of vast bounty. With the tongue of expansion in the state of closeness, he would say, “And forgive my father, surely he was one of the misguided” [26:86]. Again he would look at the poverty of his own soul and see a narrow courtyard and a dangerous, steep road. With the tongue of contraction in the state of fear he would say, “And keep me and my sons away from worshiping idols.” This is the rule of fear and hope for the folk of the Shariah and of contraction and expansion for the folk of the Haqiqah.