History of Prophet Ibrahim (AS)
“Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So, make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.”
[Surah Ibrahim, 14:37]
The history of Ibrahim عليه السلام commenced long time ago in a distant land. Ibrahim was born in the kingdom of Babylon, amidst idol worshiping people. His father Aazar was an idol worshiper but as a child, Ibrahim could not accept this practice. As he grew older, he became even more skeptical about idol worshiping. [Qur’an, 43:26 and 6:74]
One night, Ibrahim عليه السلام looked up to the sky and saw a shining star. Allah records the speech of Ibrahim in the Qur’an in Surah al An’am:
So when the night covered him [with darkness], he saw a star. He said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “I like not those that disappear.”
And when he saw the moon rising, he said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the people gone astray.”
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.
Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, inclining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah.”
[Surah al An’am, 6:76-80]
Thus, begins the journey of Ibrahim from polytheism (Shirk) to Islamic Monotheism (Tawheed).
Thereafter, Ibrahim عليه السلام set on a mission to call people to the worship of One True God, starting with his own father whom he loved much. Ibrahim argued gently with his father to give up idol worship and follow the path of Tawheed. His father rejected him followed by the people of the town, who decided to burn him which was approved by Nimrod, the king of Babylon [19:42-47; 21:68]. But Allah saved him from the blazing fire [21:69] Ibrahim’s heart was tender and he prayed for forgiveness for his father because of a promise he made [9:114]. Ibrahim debated the king, reasoned with him to worship Allah alone (Tawheed). Even though the king had nothing to say in favor of his practice but was not ready to accept the message of Tawheed.
Thereafter, Allah made him move from Mesopotamia (Babylon) to Syria and Palestine, with his nephew Lut [21:71]. Later, Ibrahim married Sarah, who had believed in Allah, and they moved to Egypt. Ibrahim عليه السلام then married Hajar and Allah blessed her with Ismail at a very old age. Years later Allah blessed Sarah also with a son named Ishaq.
Ibrahim took Ismail and her mother and left home and started travelling, crossing fertile land, barren mountains till they came to the Arabian desert. Ibrahim brought Hajar and her son Ismail while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’bah under a tree on the spot of present day Zamzam, at the highest place in the area and made them sit under a tree, placed a bag of dates and some water near her and set out homeward [Bukhari, Vol 4: H584]. Hajar ran after him and said, “O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her.
Then she asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?”
He said, “Yes.”
“Then He will not neglect us.” she said.
Ibrahim proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’bah and raised both hands and made dua to Allah:
O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House, in order O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer, so fill out the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits, so that they may give thanks [14:37].
Soon the water was finished, and Hajar and Ismail became very thirsty. She could not look at Ismail who was crying and found that the mountain of as-Safa was the nearest mountain to her in that area. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She then descended from as-Safa and reached the valley. She ran in it like a person in distress and trouble till she crossed the valley and reached al- Marwa. She kept running between as-Safa and al-Marwa. She did this seven times. This is the source of the tradition of Sa’i.
Finally, when she was exhausted Allah sent an Angel. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.”
The angel started digging the earth until water flowed. Thus, the well of Zamzam was started from where millions of people have been quenching their thirst till today. Today, we are bearing the fruits of this mother’s struggle and sacrifice. Many of us drink and have drunk from the well of Zamzam. And those of us who have made Hajj run in a much more comfortable way than Hajar ever did, between Safa and Marwa. Her commitment to her son, her sense of urgency and her unshakable faith in Allah in such harsh circumstances are all examples of not only what an excellent mother she was, but also what a strong believer in Allah she was.
Eventually, other people joined them, and the valley became a living community. Time passed by and Hajaar died. Ibrahim came back one day and had a very happy reunion with his grown-up son Ismail. Ismail grew up and started learning Arabic from the settlers and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up.
One day Ibrahim said, “O Ismail! Allah has given me an order.”
Ismail said, “Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.”
Ibrahim asked, “Will you help me?”
Ismail said, “I will help you.”
Ibrahim said, “Allah has ordered me to build a house here pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Then they raised the foundation of the House (the Ka’bah). The father and the son built the Ka’bah with their own hands carrying stones themselves. Then both of then went on building and going round the Ka’bah saying: “O our Lord, accept (this service) from us. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower [2:127]. When completed, Ibrahim stepped on a large stone and called on the people to obey their Lord. This large stone, which he stepped on, is still there to this day near the Ka’bah. It is called Maqam Ibrahim” [Bukhari. Vol 4:H583].