There, now, takes place a miraculous event that cannot be explained by any known natural law. Ibrahim comes out with his beloved son. He is going to sacrifice the son at the Command of God, and the son, too, is accompanying him willingly. The goal before them is the same.
It is compliance with the Command of Allah and total resignation to His Will. In the way they are met by the Devil who is always eager to deceive man and to deprive him of goodness and rectitude.
He tries to dissuade them from carrying out their intention by presenting before them the alternative of the defiance of God in a most alluring manner and by playing upon their natural weakness for life.
But they do not listen to him and get ready for the supreme act of submission. The moment, finally, comes which is enough to afflict with agony not only men but even the Jinns and angels.
Ibrahim lays his son on the ground, places the knife on his throat and proceeds to cut it. But the Will of God intervenes because what was intended was not the slaying of Ismail but of the love that had come in the way of the love of Allah and begun to compete with it.
That love had been killed with the placing of the knife on Ismail's throat. Ismail was born to live and to prosper and to raise up a lineage which was also to include the Last of the Prophets. How could he be put to death before the fulfillment of his mission? God, therefore, sent down a ram, as a ransom for him, from the Heaven so that it may be slaughtered in his place and made it a religious ceremony to be observed by all the followers of Ibrahim and their descendants. During the 'sacrificial days' of the Hajj they revive the memory of the 'sublime sacrifice' and make an offering of their wealth to God by spending it in His way.
“Then, when they both had surrendered to Allah, and he (Ibrahim) had flung him (Ismail) down on his face, We called unto him; O Ibrahim! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision. Lo! Thus do We reward the good. Lo! That verily was a clear test. Then We ransomed him with a tremendous victim. And We left for him among the later folk (The Salutation): Peace be unto Ibrahim.” (Surah As-Saffat, 37: 103-109)
The incident which took place between Ibrahim and the Satan has also been immortalised by God and it has been decreed by Him that pebbles should be thrown where the Satan stood in Ibrahim's way and tried to dissuade him from carrying out the Divine Command.
He has raised it to a ritual which has to be performed during the most auspicious days of the Hajj pilgrimage. The object is to produce a feeling of revulsion against the Satan and to make it serve as an expression of defiance and resistance against him.
The pilgrim draws a good deal of joy and inspiration from it provided that he is sound of faith and his understanding is correct and there is present in him a genuine desire to submit to the Divine Will.
In re-enacting this part of the episode he feels that he is engaged in a solemn struggle against the forces of evil in which the defeat of the Satan is certain.
Years roll by on this event, the child has grown into a young man and the mantle of Apostleship has fallen upon him.
The call of Ibrahim has, also, borne fruit and spread widely. It was now in need of a strong base which could lend support to the Divine faith and sustain it.
There were innumerable temples and plates in the world where the Devil and the sensual appetites were freely worshipped. But, on God's good earth there was, till then, not a place dedicated solely to His worship. Thus, now that the faith had taken root and the foundations of were Ummat-i-Muslima were securely laid Ibrahim was commanded to build the House of God which was to be the refuge of all mankind. Father and son together construct the sacred edifice which, though very simple and ordinary to lack at, is full of grandeur and solidity from the point of view of its object. They both carry stones and raise its walls.
“And (the time also is worth remembering) when Ibrahim and Ismail were raising the foundations of the House, (Ibrahim) prayed: Our Lord! Accept from us this Duty; Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower. Our Lord! And make us submissive unto Thee, and if our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Relenting, the Merciful.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 127-8)
The House was raised on the foundation of matchless faith and single-minded devotion. The Almighty God bestowed His choicest acceptance upon it and ended it with permanence. He endowed it with inner as well as outward elegance, made it Qibla-gah of the world and caused for it a unique and undying attraction in the hearts. It draws people from all parts of the world like a magnet.
They flock to it with rare enthusiasm and reverence and make an offering of their heart and soul to it. It is free from external adornment and artificial decorations and it is situated at a place which is removed from the broad stream of life and the din and clang of civilization.
Yet there is something about it which is overwhelming, irresistible.
When the house was ready, a voice came from the great beyond. It spoke:
“And proclaim unto mankind the pilgrimage. They will come unto Thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine. That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He hath bestowed upon them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor and the destitute. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor and the destitute. Then let them make and end of their unkemptness and pay their vows and go around the ancient House." (Surah Al-Hajj, 22: 27-29)
At the time of Ibrahim the world was a slave to the operation of the law of cause and effect and people had begun to place an excessive reliance on material aids and resources.
It was imagined that causes were absolute and independent in themselves, and a new kind of fetishism had come up side by side with traditional idolatry. The life of Ibrahim was a revolt against these very ‘image carvers’ and ‘idol worshippers’. It was a call to pure Monotheism, to unqualified belief in the Power of God with all its immensity and boundlessness.
It was a declaration of truth that He alone was the Creator of all things, the Prime mover, the cause of causes, the real Lord and Master, who, when He pleased, separated the causes from their origins and altered the properties of things. He took away from a thing what was peculiar to it and brought forth from it an effect that was supposed to be dissimilar.
He made us of whatever He liked and in whatever way He pleased.
"The people had prepared a fire for Ibrahim and they cried, ‘Burn him and stand by your Gods, if ye will be doing anything." (Surah Al-Anbiya’, 21:68)
But Ibrahim knew that the fire was subservient to the Will of Allah. To burn was not an absolute characteristic of it which could not be taken away but only a relative attribute that had been placed in it by God as a trust.
Its control and operation lay wholly in His hands who could transform it into a flower-bed in the twinkling of an eye.
With this faith and conviction Ibrahim jumped into the fire and it turned out to be exactly as he had expected.
"We said: O fire, be coolness and peace for Ibrahim. And they wished to set a snare for him, but We made them the greater losers.” (Surah Al-Anbiya’ 21, 69-79)
Life was commonly believed to be dependent upon water, field and orchards. People used to be on the lookout for regions to make their home that were suitable for themselves as well as for their gods, where there was an abundant supply of water, the soil was rich and facilities for trade and industry were easily obtainable. But Ibrahim acted differently.
In utter disregard of the biddings of intellect and experience, he chose for his small family of a wife and son a dry and barren valley where not a blade of grass grew and which was also completely cut off from the outside world and separated from the areas of prosperity.
On arriving there he prayed to Allah to enlarge the provision of his posterity, to incline the hearts of men towards them and to provide them with all kinds of fruit without any apparent means.
“Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near upto Thy Holy House, Our Lord! that they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they may yarn toward them, and provide Thou them with fruits in order that they may be thankful.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 37)
The prayer was granted by Allah, and in what a magnificent manner! Both peace and sustenance were assured to his succeeding generations and the valley of Mecca was made the home of fruits and His other bounties.
“Have We not established for them a sure sanctuary, Whereunto the produce of all kind is brought (in trade), a provision from Our Presence? But most of them know not.” (Surah Al-Qasas, 28: 57)
“So let them worship the Lord of this House (of Ka’bah) Who hath fed them against hunger.” (Surah Quraish, 106: 34)
Ibrahim had abandoned his family at a place where not a drop of water was to be found but Allah caused a spring to gush forth from the parched, stony land. Water began to gush, from the sand, all by itself, and, even to this day; it has been going on like that, without an interruption.
People drink it and take it home in barrels. He had left his wife and son in a desolate and uninhabited valley but soon it began to hum with people drawn from every nook and corner of the world.
Ibrahim’s life was a challenge to the exaggerated materialism and blind submission to the law of cause and effect of his age, and an affirmation of faith in the 0mnipotence and All powerfulness of God - and it is the unchanging Practice of the Lord that He makes means and resources subordinate to faith and produce results from them as are outside the range of human understanding.
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