Ibrahim (as) had been married to Sarah for a while but they did not have any children. As time went on, they prayed much to Allah to grant them some off spring. Sarah felt that she was getting too old and may not be able to bear children. She told Ibrahim (as) to take her slave girl, Hajar, as his wife and maybe Allah would bless them with a child through her.
Hajar had a beautiful baby boy and they named him Ismael. However, after a short while, Sarah became jealous of Hajar and Ismael. She told Ibrahim (as) to take the child and mother to a land far away from them. Ibrahim (as) decided to take them to a place in Hijaz, which was a dry, mountainous and barren land. Here Ibrahim (as) left Hajar and Ismael under the shade of a lofty tree, near the hills of Safa and Marwa. This place had very little vegetation and had no water. Ibrahim (as) left some food with Hajar and a pouch of water.
After some time both the food and water ran short and Ismael began to cry. Hajar was panicking, she ran between the hills of Safah and Marwah looking for food or water but could not find anything. She ran between the two hillocks seven times. After the frantic search, she returned and found a spring had appeared where Ismael was kicking the sand with his feet. This spring, called ZamZam, was producing clean water and Hajar and Ismael drank from it. The ZamZam spring is still with us today producing the same sweet and pure water.
After a short time, people began to move to this valley. By the permission of Hajar, a few tribes settled and it gradually became a small town. This town was near a busy trade route and many merchants began to pass through bringing in wealth. This town grew to become the city of Makkah, which is still a busy city in Arabia today.
When Ismael was still a small boy, Ibrahim (as) had a dream or vision. In this dream he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his son. When a prophet has a dream it is always true. In fact, a prophet’s dream is actually a form of revelation. This dream occurred several times and Ibrahim (as) decided that he would take his beloved son, Ismael and would sacrifice him to Allah. as the Qu’ran narrates, Ismael agreed that Ibrahim (as) should carry out the command of Allah.
The Qu’ran states: Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a vision that I offer you in sacrifice: what is your view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as you are commanded: you will find me, if Allah so wills, one practising patience and constancy!”
Both Ibrahim (as) and Ismael travelled to the place of sacrifice. However, on the way, the shaytan appeared three times and tried to persuade Ibrahim (as) not to carry out the command of Allah. The shaytan tried to deceive Ibrahim (as) by reminding him how much he loved his son. Ibrahim (as) was a prophet and he knew that the love of Allah comes before the love of his son. Ibrahim (as) also knew that this was the command of Allah so he must carry it out. Each time the Shaytan came to him, Ibrahim (as) threw stones at him and continued with this journey.
Traditions tell us that Ibrahim (as) could not bear to look at his son so he blindfolded himself and carried out the sacrifice. When Ibrahim (as) removed the blindfold, a sheep or ram was in place of his son and Ibrahim (as) knew that the sacrifice had been accepted. On this occasion, Ibrahim (as) had proven himself and passed this great trial from Allah (Alhamdulilla).
Later on, Allah blessed Ibrahim (as) with another son, whom they named Ishaq. This time he was born from Sarah, Prophet Ibrahim (as)’s first wife. Historic sources tell us Ishaq was born 13 years after the birth of his brother Ismael. There was much happiness in the household of Ibrahim (as) after the birth of another beautiful baby boy.
From the descendents of Ishaq, there were many great tribes and the Jews are traced through Ishaq to Ibrahim (as). From Ishaq’s descendents there were many great prophets including Yusuf, Yaqoob, Isa, Musa, Dawood and Yahya. Similarly, through Ismael, there were many great tribes, the most famous being the Quraish. Prophet Muhammad is a descendent of Ibrahim (as) through Ismael. Therefore, the Jews and the Arabs are actually cousins or brethren of each other.
Ismael was respected and loved by the people of Hijaz. The main tribe that settled was the tribe of Jurhum. They married one of their daughters to Ismael and Ismael settled down. On one occasion, Ibrahim (as) went to visit his son but Ismael was not at home. Ibrahim (as) asked Ismael’s wife about their household. She complained of poverty to Ibrahim (as). When Ibrahim (as) was ready to leave, he asked her to give Ismael the message that the doorstep of his house was crooked and to change it. When Ismael got the message he divorced his wife and later married another woman from Jurhum.
Another time Ibrahim (as) came to meet Ismael and again Ismael was not at home. He asked Ismael’s wife about them and about their life together. She said Alhamdulilla, everything was well and thanked Allah for whatever little they had been blessed with. On leaving Ibrahim (as) left a message that the doorstep of his house was fine. Through this wife, all the descendents of Ismael are traced.
On a third occasion, Ibrahim (as) went and visited his son, Ismael. He found him in the valley of Makkah. After a happy reunion they both, by the command of Allah, built the Ka’bah. This was the first house built for the worship of the one and only true god of all mankind. He then asked the tribes to make pilgrimage to this house of Allah.
A long time ago, Ibrahim (as) started this pilgrimage and he commanded the people to perform this pilgrimage. From then until now, many millions of Muslims still visit the Ka’bahand perform the Hajj. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims must carry out the Hajj, at least once in their lifetime.
The people after Ismael became misguided and gradually began to worship stone idols. What was worse was that they began to fill this holy sanctuary in Makkah with Idols. What Ibrahim (as) had advised and fought against was happening even in this holiest of holy places. The people still believed in Allah but also had faith in these idols. Allah took away the blessing of Zamzam from the people and left them in a state of misguidance.
The society had become astray from the truth. The misguidance continued for hundreds of years until prophet Muhammad was sent as a messenger to the people. By this time, the society had become engrossed in many forms of evil and had completely strayed from all that was good. The prophet came and cleansed this holy place from all the evil and forms of shirk.
However, just before the prophet’s time, one noble person from the tribe of Quraysh was going to restore some of these blessing. This person was Abdul Muttalib, the Prophet’s grandfather. But that is another story for another day, inshallah.