وَاجْعَلْ ل۪ي لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ فِي الْاٰخِر۪ينَۙ وَاجْعَلْن۪ي مِنْ وَرَثَةِ جَنَّةِ النَّع۪يمِ
And grant me a most true and virtuous renown among posterity. And make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of bounty and blessing. (Ash-Shu‘arā’ 26:84–85)
Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, was a man who was perfectly aware and appreciative of his Lord’s bounties and limitless blessings on him. He was perfectly sure that everything was from God: it is He Who feeds, nurtures and satisfies all the needs and grants everybody the ability to speak and express themselves. That is, He is the absolute Master and Sovereign. If therefore such a man of perfect awareness prays, saying, “Grant me a most true and virtuous renown among posterity,” it is certain that God inspired this supplication in him. In other words, God became the tongue of Abraham and made him pray so, and then He accepted his prayer. If God would not have accepted Abraham’s prayer, He would not have inspired it in him. Indeed, God accepted Abraham’s prayer, and the most evident proof of this is that as Muslims, we call God’s blessings and peace upon him together with our Prophet and his Family in the final sitting of each of our Prayers.
Another significant point worth mentioning is this: The Prophets do not bequeath any property when they pass away. Their legacy is their cause or mission. Being one of the most important links in the chain of Prophethood, Prophet Abraham, who revived the Divine religion by making many changes in people’s beliefs, thoughts, and actions and by introducing many new things and abrogating many others and can therefore be regarded as a reviver, had the intention of being able to address the whole of humanity. His prayer under discussion was the result of such an intention. God Almighty accepted his prayer, and he became like the blessed Tūbā tree of Paradise for all humanity through his two illustrious offspring that became like the two large, expansive branches of this blessed tree. He functioned as a unique source both for the series of Prophets and other great guides from his younger son Isaac to Prophet Jesus and for the glorious lineage of his elder son Ishmael, which gave fruit to God’s last and greatest Messenger and Prophet, Muhammad, upon them all be peace. He has always enjoyed “a most true and virtuous renown among people” belonging to both of these branches, or paths. Even though Prophethood ended with our noblest Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, Prophet Abraham continues to be remembered and mentioned by the followers of all heavenly religions. As mentioned above, hundreds of millions of Muslims have been calling God’s peace and blessings on him many times a day during their Prayers for fourteen centuries and will continue to do so until the Last Day. These prayers must add to the acceptance of Prophet Abraham for himself to be admitted to “the Garden of bounty and blessing.”
Here we should mention another important point. The mission represented and carried out by the Prophets can never be compared to certain human ideals. The Prophets are not idealists according to the common usage of the word ideal or idealism. The mission they represent and carry out is incomparably great, meaningful, and important. They are the envoys and officials of the Lord of the worlds. Because of this, with his prayer above Prophet Abraham may have asked that his Divine cause should not come to an end but continue until the Last Day, and he may therefore have desired to have a most true and virtuous renown among the generations to succeed.
The second part of the prayer, “And make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of bounty and blessing,” means that despite his own excellencies and merits and although he was the leader of the two most radiant and enlightening paths of human history, which gave fruit to numerous Prophets and other intellectual and spiritual guides, he did not see himself as deserving of Paradise and prayed to God for it. This demonstrates that no one can enter Paradise as the result of his deeds; Paradise is a gift of God which He will grant to His believing and righteous servants purely out of His Mercy. However, in order to be admitted into it we must earnestly and persistently ask for it through our sound and accurate beliefs, good, righteous deeds, and continuous entreaties.