The Trials of Ibrahim (as)
October 16, 2013 9 Comments
Hazrat Ibrahim (as) did not come easy by his belief. On his own he worked out the oneness and omnipotency of Allah, but was tried for it. His belief was known to Allah, so his trials were really a sign for later generations and many of these have come down to us in the form of Hajj rituals.
Thrown into the fire for his beliefs, then forced into exile, Ibrahim (as) was somewhere in his early 80s, when his first child Ismael was born, to the Lady Haajra. A sacrificial life seemed not to suffice, as soon a dream came asking him to take his wife and child and abandon them in the deserted stony and remote valley of Becca (later Mecca). As he turned away after leaving his wife and child, he had not words to express himself. The Lady Haajra hence asked him, why is he doing this thing? When Ibrahim (as) could not answer, she asked is this the order of Allah, and Ibrahim (as) simply nodded and left.
As the desperation for provisions and water increased, Lady Haajra ran from the mount of Safa to Marwa (7 cycles) looking for some help. In the meantime the little child Ismael, writhing with lack of water, rubbed his heels against the rock. When Lady Haajra returned to the child after her runs, she found water flowing out of the rock, below the heel of Ismael. She tried to dam the water, but it overflowed at great rates and it is then that she uttered the famous words which have lasted these thousands of years to our time. “Zam Zam!” Stop! Stop! The water stopped, but has catered for billions of people in this intervening period. Such are the signs of Allah, through the clan of Ibrahim (as).
Some years later, Ibrahim (as) now knowing that his family was thriving, was unnerved to receive another dream. His dream called for sacrifice, so in subsequent days he sacrificed ever increasing numbers of animals. To no avail, the dream would not go and eventually settled on the image of the child Ismael. With a heavy heart Ibrahim (as) trudged to Mecca to see his family. By then, various caravans seeing such abundant water, had settled in the valley and a community was thriving there. Ibrahim (as) took the boy Ismael and walked to Mina, away from the community.
Satan knew that a cataclysmic blow is to be delivered to him and so he pulled out all the stops. First he approached Lady Haajra, saying your husband is in error, he is going to sacrifice your child. To which the lady replied, this must be an instruction from Allah and ‘so be it’. Thwarted, he approached Ismael, on the way to Mina. He got an emphatic answer from the boy, who said my father follows the instruction of Allah and ‘so be it’. Lastly, thrice he approached Ibrahim (as), each time to be repulsed, by the prophet throwing 7 stones at him to repel him. And so we commemorate this event in Hajj, with the act of Rummi today.
As Ibrahim (as) got ready to run the knife over the throat of Ismael, the instructions to the angel Jibreel were clear from Allah. Take a goat and replace its throat under the knife, so that Ismael is saved. And so when the throat was cut, it was the goats blood which flowed and Ismael was safe. On seeing this Ibrahim (as) uttered the famous words which Muslims and hajis utter during these days.
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa laa ila ha ill lalla,
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillah il hamd.
“God is great, God is great, and there is no God but Him, God is great, God is great, He is to be praised.”
In reward for his many sacrifices and trials, Hazrat Ibrahim (as) was felicitated in all the religions of the books and his prayers were accepted for the eternity of this world. He asked for two great nations out of his progeny and so he received through the ummah of the Jews and Muslims. He also asked for the house (Kaaba) which he built under instructions from Allah, to be populated and busy to the end of days and so has happened, over these millennia. Further he and his family’s actions are commemorated through the acts of Hajj and Umra, by tens of millions of Muslims annually. What a great legacy to leave behind. And what a great reward for his sacrifices.