"And remember when Ibraaheem said to his father Aazar, 'Will you take idols for worship? Indeed I see that you and those who worship idols along with you are upon clear error.' Likewise We showed Ibraaheem the heavens and the earth (and how they are a proof that the Creator alone should be worshipped), so that he should be one of those who have Faith with certainty. So when the night covered him with darkness he saw a star and said, (as an argument to show his people the error of worshipping anything besides Allaah), 'This is (what you claim to be) my Lord?!' Then when it set, he said, 'I do not love that which passes away.' Then when he saw the moon rising up he said, 'This is (what you claim to be) my Lord?!' Then when it set he said, 'If my Lord did not keep me firm upon the guidance then I would surely be one of the misguided.' Then when he saw the sun, he said, 'This is (what you claim to be) my Lord?! This is greater than the others.' Then when it set he said, 'O my people, I am free from all that you associate as partners in worship with Allaah. Indeed I have turned my face in worship to Him who has created the heavens and the earth, making all worship purely for Him, and I am not from those who worship anything besides Allaah.'" [Soorah al-An'aam (6):74-79]
So this was a fervent, vigorous and incessant call to the tawheed of Allaah, and to make all of religion purely for Him, and to the elimination and rejection of shirk. It begins with the family and extends to the nations, waging war upon shirk and the idols and shaking the very foundations of attribution of any worship to the stars. So the chosen and beloved Friend of Allaah proceeded upon the soundest way in debating and arguing in order to establish Allaah's Proof and to refute shirk and to show its fallacy and reject the doubts used to support it. So his use of the word 'idols' shows contempt for their phoney and supposed gods, and an exposure of their foolishness. He observed the aforementioned celestial bodies one after the other, each one succeeded the previous one which set and became absent, in order to use their condition as a clear proof of the fallacy of their having any divinty or right to worship as his people claimed. Who was it who protected and guarded them and controlled their affairs and the affairs of the creation when they passed and set?! Therefore they must reject the false divinity and right to worship which they claimed for them and disbelieve in that. It was upon them to wash their hands of them and turn instead to their true God, He Who created and brought into existence the heavens and the earth. He Who does not pass away or depart. He Who knows all about their condition and is fully aware of all their movements and periods of rest. He Who protects and preserves them and controls their affairs. They were strong proofs extracted from the situation they experienced and the visible creation.
Allaah, the Most High, says:
"And recite to your people from the Book (the Qur'aan), O Muhammad (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam), about Ibraaheem. He was one who was fully truthful and one sent as a Prophet by Allaah. When he said to his father, 'Why do you worship that which cannot hear, nor see, nor benefit you, nor remove any harm from you at all?! O my father, Allaah has given me knowledge which has not come to you, so accept the sincere advice I give you, and I will show you the Straight Way, upon which you will not go astray. O my father, do not worship Satan (by obeying him in his call for you to worship the idols) - indeed Satan is one disobedient to the Most Merciful (Allaah). O my father, I fear for you, knowing that if you die upon attribution of partners to Allaah in worship, and upon worship of Satan, that Allaah's punishment and torment will be upon you, and that you will merely be a companion of Satan in the Hell-fire.' He replied, 'Do you reject my gods, O Ibraaheem? If you do not cease abusing and reviling them I will certainly revile you. Go away from me if you wish to remain safe from me.' Ibraaheem said, 'But you are safe from me harming you, I will rather ask my Lord to guide you and forgive your sins. He has always been most Gracious and Kind to me. I shall keep away from you and all that you worship besides Allaah, and I will worship and invoke my Lord, making all of worship purely for Him. I hope that I shall not be one unblest in my worship and supplications.' So when he separated himself from them and all that they worshipped besides Allaah, We gave him a family who were better than them, Ishaaq and Ya'qoob, and we made all of them Prophets, and we bestowed our mercy upon them all, and granted them renown and praise upon the tongues of the people." [Soorah Maryam (19):41-50]
So this was a fervent call to tawheed, established firmly upon knowledge, reason and intellect, and upon good and sound manners. Guiding the misguided to the Straight Path. It was opposed by blind bigotry and partisanship, based upon desires, ignorance, stubborness and obsinate pride: otherwise how could anyone worship and humble themselves to those who cannot hear, nor see, nor help them in any way?!
Indeed the knowledge of tawheed, O reader, is that knowledge which all the Prophets were honoured with, and with it they assaulted falsehood, ignorance and shirk. So ignorance of this knowledge, the knowledge carried by the Prophets, which guides to the truth and saves from misguidance and shirk, ignorance of this is fatal and is a deadly poison which kills the intellect and the ability to think.
"O my Father, Allaah has given me knowledge which has not come to you, accept the sincere advice which I give to you, and I will show you the Straight Way, upon which you will not go astray." [Soorah Maryam (19):43]
Then after these robust efforts in da'wah expended by Ibraaheem in calling to Allaah, calling the family and the nation, establishing the irrefutable proofs upon his father and his people, after this he took this great call and confronted that haughty and tyrannical ruler who claimed divinity, he faced him with the full strength and bravery. Allaah, the Most High, says:
"Do you not consider the one (Namrood) who, because Allaah had granted him an extended kingdom disputed with Ibraaheem about his Lord. Ibraaheem said to him, 'It is my Lord (Allaah) Who gives life and death.' He said, 'I give life and cause death.' Ibraaheem said, 'Allaah causes the sun to rise from the east, so if you are truthful then cause it to rise from the west.' So the unbeliever was confounded, and Allaah does not guide the unbelievers to find proof against the people of truth." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):258]
So Ibraaheem called this tyrant and claimant to divinity to the tawheed of Allaah, and to eemaan in His Lordship. But he exceeded all bounds in his arrogance and haughtily refused to accept the tawheed of Allaah and to give up on his claims to Lordship. So Ibraaheem debated with him in this brilliant manner whose proof was clear. Ibraaheem said,
"It is my Lord (Allaah) Who gives life and death." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):258]
So the stupid tyrant replied that he too could give life and death - meaning that he killed whom he pleased and spared whom he pleased. This answer of his was merely a pretence and a means of fooling the ignorant, and was a way of avoiding the question, since what Ibraaheem referred to was the fact that his Lord created mankind, animals and plants and gave them life, and brought them into existence from nothing. Then He causes them to die with His Power, and that He gives the humans and animals death at the end of their appointed life-spans, due to visible causes which He shows and without visible causes. So when Ibraaheem saw that he tried to create a pretence to evade the issue, which might fool some of the ignorant and common folk, he then said, as a means of showing the futility of what his saying entailed, that if you are as you claim, then,
"'Allaah causes the sun to rise from the east, so if you are truthful then cause it to rise from the west.' So the unbeliever was confounded." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):258]
So the unbeliever was left confounded and at a loss for words. His argument was overthrown, he was silenced, struck dumb and falsehood was rendered futile as is always the case. So this contains a lesson for those who listen attentively and witness it, that the call to tawheed represents the peak of sincerity, wisdom and intelligence; it proceeds in the due and correct manner, and as Allaah has willed, not merely struggling for kingship, nor seeking to fight for leadership.
If the goal of Ibraaheem had been to attain rulership and authority he would have taken a different methodology to this, and he would have found people who gathered around him and supported him. But Allaah refuses, and His Prophets and the pious callers from the true followers of the Prophets in every time and place, they all refuse except to follow the way of guidance and truth, and to clearly proclaim the truth and to establish the proof against the proud and obstinate.
So Ibraaheem established this great obligation in the best and most complete manner. He established the proof upon his father and his people, upon those who governed them and upon all of his nation. Then when he saw that they were persisting in their shirk and their unbelief and were established upon falsehood and misguidance, he resorted to censure and correction by means of the hand and use of strength. So where did his change and correction begin, and what was the correct and rightly guided means for correction of the dire situation which had beset his nation? Did he seek to overthrow the state because it was the root of all the evils and corruption and the source of shirk and misguidance?! How can that be denied when the ruler claimed lordship for himself and persisted in that claim? So why did Ibraaheem not consider a revolution against this unbelieving government, and at the head of it a tyrant who claimed divinity, and by so doing wipe out all the forms of corruption and shirk, and establish in its place the divinely-guided state headed by Ibraaheem, 'alayhis-salaatu was-salaam?! The answer is the Prophets were far removed from following any such way or even considering it, since this is the way of the oppressors, the ignorant and the foolish, those who seek after this world and strive for authority in it.
Rather the Prophets were callers to tawheed and pioneers guiding to the truth, and seeking to save the people from falsehood and shirk. So when they applied themselves to correction and changing the state of affairs, and they were the most knowledgeable and intelligent of the people, then they necessarily began with striking at the true sources of shirk and misguidance. This is what Ibraaheem, the mild, wise and rightly guided, the heroic and brave, did. Allaah, the Most High, says:
"We guided Ibraaheem to the truth at a young age before the time of Moosaa and Haaroon, and We knew that he was fitting for that and was a person of true and certain eemaan who would worship Allaah alone and not associate any partner with Him. When he said to his father and his people, 'What are these idols which you worship and are devoted to?!' They said, 'We found our fathers worshipping them and have followed them in that.' He said, 'Both you and they in worshipping the idols are in clear error.' They said, 'Are you serious in your saying that you have come with the truth, or are you merely being frivolous?' He said, 'Rather, I bring you the truth. Your Lord, other than Whom none has the right to be worshipped, is the sole Lord and Creator of the heavens and the earth, He Who created you all, not any of the idols to which you are devoted. I am a witness to the fact that none but Him is deserving of your worship.' Ibraaheem said in secret (but was overheard by a single man from his people), 'By Allaah, I intend to destroy their idols when they go off to their festival.' So he broke them to pieces except for the largest of them (upon which he tied the axe with which he had broken the others), so that they might take heed and abandon worship of their idols after witnessing their weakness and futility. The people said, 'Who has done this to our gods?! Whoever has done it is certainly a criminal.' Those who had heard the saying of Ibraaheem said, 'We heard a youth speaking, he is called Ibraaheem.' They said, 'Bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may testify against him.' They said, 'Is it you who did this to our gods, O Ibraaheem?' He said, 'Rather this one, the largest of them did it. Ask the idols who had it done to them, if it is that they can speak.' So they turned to themsleves and said, 'You know that they are unable to speak.' He said, 'Then will you worship besides Allaah that which cannot benefit you at all, nor harm you. Woe to you and the idols which you worship besides Allaah. Have you no sense to see the futility of your worship of the idols?' They said, 'Burn him and aid your gods, if you do indeed wish to aid them and continue to worship them.' We said, 'O fire, be cool and safe for Ibraaheem.' They wished to cause harm to him, but it was they whom We caused to be the losers." [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):51-70]
So Allaah guided Ibraaheem to the truth knowing that he was fitting for that. This wise and rightly-guided Prophet faced corruptions in beliefs ('aqeedah) and corruption in rule and authority. A nation whose thinking was degenerate, people whose minds were astray, so that they worshipped idols in the form of pieces of wood, rocks and stars. They were also ruled by a corrupt and evil government lead by a tyrant who claimed divinity, yet the people submitted to his leadership. So where was Ibraaheem to begin his correction? Should he have begun by attacking the ruler, since for certain he had ruled by other than the revelaed Law of Allaah and ruled by the laws of ignorance. There is no doubt about that. He also openly claimed Lordship and the right to make and lay down the law. Or should he have begun with correction of beliefs ('aqeedah). Correcting the 'aqeedah of the nation and the 'aqeedah of the government of ignorance?!
The Qur'aan informs us that this rightly-guided Prophet, the Imaam of the Prophets, began with correction of 'aqeedah, that is the call to the tawheed of Allaah, and to make all worship purely and sincerely for Him alone, and fighting and wiping out shirk, and demolishing its causes, and tearing it out from the roots. So that is what he did: he called them to the tawheed of Allaah, and to renounce the worship of everything besides Him. He argued with them about this matter and they argued with him. But he refuted them with powerful arguments and clear proofs, and he stripped them of everything they sought to use as a proof until they admitted their wrongdoing, misguidance, and their blind-following and stubborn and fatal acceptance of the ways of their forefathers.
"They said, 'We found our fathers worshipping them and have followed them in that.'" [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):53]
So when Ibraaheem saw obstinate following of desires and intellects as hard as rock, he made a wise and brave plan to destroy their idols. He carried out this plan with fullvigour, bravery and courage. Then this heroic act  incited the government and the nation against him, and they called him for judgement in public and laid down the charge before him,
"Is it you who did this to our gods, O Ibraaheem?" [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):62]
So he responded to them in a mocking and sarcastic manner,
"Rather this one, the largest of them did it. Ask the idols who had it done to them, if it is that they can speak." [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):63]
So this mocking reply was like a thunder-bolt striking their imbecilic minds.
"Then they relapsed and said, 'You know that they are unable to speak.'" [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):65]
So when he had divested them of the weapon of argument, they resorted to using force, the weapon used by everyone lacking proof in every time and place,
"They said, 'Burn him and aid your gods, if you do indeed wish to aid them and continue to worship them.'" [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):68]
But Allaah saved His chosen and beloved friend, Ibraaheem, and He threw back the plot of the unbelievers upon them.
"We said, 'O fire, be cool and safe for Ibraaheem.' They wished to cause harm to him, but it was they whom we caused to be the losers." [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):69-70]
So the fact that Ibraaheem was saved from harm in that huge fire, which Allaah caused to become cool and safe for Ibraaheem, was a very great sign, indeed one of the greatest of Allaah's signs proving his Prophet hood, his truthfulness, and the correctness of what he came with, i.e., tawheed and the declaration of the fultility of the shirk and misguidance which his people were upon.
Then Allaah rewarded Ibraaheem, 'alayhis-salaam, for this wise da'wah, and this outstanding jihaad and sacrifice,
"We saved Ibraaheem and Loot from their enemies and took them to the land which We have blessed for all the worlds. And We bestowed upon him Ishaaq (his son) and Ya'qoob (his grandson) as an extra favour upon him. And We made all of them those who acted in obedience to Allaah and avoided what He forbade. And We made them leaders to be followed, guiding the people according to Our orders and calling them to worship and obey Allaah. And We inspired in them the doing of those deeds which are good, and establishment of the Prayer, and payment of the Zakaat. And they were worshippers of Us alone." [Soorah al-Ambiyaa (21):71-73]
 As indicated by the saying of Allaah, the Most High:
"Then We revealed to you, O Muhammad (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam), that you should follow the religion of Ibraaheem who was a Muslim upon the true religion and was not one of those who worshipped idols and associated partners with Allaah." [Soorah an-Nahl (16):123]
And the saying of Allaah, the Most High:
"Say, O Muhammad (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam): Allaah has indeed spoken the Truth, so follow the religion of Ibraaheem who was upright, upon the religion of Islaam, and he did not make any share of his worship for any created being." [Soorah Aal-'Imraan (3):95]
 The great heroic action and the wise call to tawheed and to the elimination of shirk, is counted by many of the callers to correction these days as being an example of preoccupying oneself with minor and insignificant matters. And there is no action nor power except by the will of Allaah.
Indeed it is not the eyes that are blind, but rather the hearts. They think that da'wah must begin with a call to the correction and rectification of rulership and government, not correction of 'aqeedah. In this view Ibraaheem and all the Prophets were in error with regard to the correct methodology of da'wah. [al-Fawzaan]