Source : Tafseer Ibn Kathir
(260. And (remember) when Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”)
The Khalil Supplicates to Allah to Show Him How He Resurrects the Dead
The scholars said that there are reasons behind this request by Ibrahim. For instance, when Ibrahim said to Nimrod, (My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death,) he wanted to solidify his knowledge about resurrection by actually witnessing it with his eyes. Prophet Ibrahim said,
(“My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.”)
Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(We are more liable to be in doubt than Ibrahim when he said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” Allah said, “Don’t you believe” Ibrahim said, “Yes (I believe), but (I ask) in order to be stronger in faith.”)
The Prophet’s statement in the Hadith means, “We are more liable to seek certainty.”
The Answer to Al-Khalil’s Request:
(He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you.”)
Scholars of Tafsir disagreed over the type of birds mentioned here, although this matter in not relevant due to the fact that the Qur’an did not mention it. Allah’s statement, (cause them to incline towards you) means, cut them to pieces. This is the explanation of Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Malik, Abu Al-Aswad Ad-Dili, Wahb bin Munabbih, Al-Hasan and As-Suddi.
Therefore, Ibrahim caught four birds, slaughtered them, removed the feathers, tore the birds to pieces and mixed the pieces together. He then placed parts of these mixed pieces on four or seven hills. Ibn `Abbas said, “Ibrahim kept the heads of these birds in his hand. Next, Allah commanded Ibrahim to call the birds to him, and he did as Allah commanded him. Ibrahim witnessed the feathers, blood and flesh of these birds fly to each other, and the parts flew each to their bodies, until every bird came back to life and came walking at a fast pace towards Ibrahim, so that the example that Ibrahim was witnessing would become more impressive. Each bird came to collect its head from Ibrahim’s hand, and if he gave the bird another head the bird refused to accept it. When Ibrahim gave each bird its own head, the head was placed on its body by Allah’s leave and power. ”
This is why Allah said,
(And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise) and no one can overwhelm or resist Him. Whatever Allah wills, occurs without hindrance, because He is the All-Mighty, Supreme above all things, and He is Wise in His statements, actions, legislation and decrees.
`Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ma`mar said that Ayyub said that Ibn `Abbas commented on what Ibrahim said,
(but to be stronger in Faith), “To me, there is no Ayah in the Qur’an that brings more hope than this Ayah.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir said that `Abdullah bin `Abbas met `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As and said to him, “Which Ayah in the Qur’an carries more hope for you” Ibn `Amr said,
(Say: “O `Ibadi (My servants) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not.) (39:53).
Ibn `Abbas said, “But I say that it is Allah’s statement,
(And (remember) when Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe)…)
Allah accepted Ibrahim’s affirmation when he merely said, `Yes.’ This Ayah refers to the doubts that attack the heart and the thoughts that Shaytan inspires.” Al-Hakim also recorded this in Al-Mustadrak and said; “Its chain is Sahih but they did not record it.”