Sura Al-Baqarah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-117

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The second trial was that Sayyidna Ibrahim عليه السلام was asked to leave his homeland, and to migrate to Syria along with his family. Then, he was commanded to leave even this country which he readily did, accompanied by his wife Hajirah (Hagar رضي الله عنها) and his infant son Sayyidna lsrna'il (Ishmael عليه السلام), and led by the archangel Jibra'il (Gabriel عليه السلام). Ibn Kathir henever they passed through a fertile land, Sayyidna Ibrahim (عليه السلام) would wish to be allowed to settle there, but the archangel would inform him that Allah did not want him to do so. Finally, when they reached the barren desert which was destined to be the site of Makkah and where the Ka'bah was to be built, he was commanded to stay there. But now began a new trial, much more difficult for man to bear. He was ordered to leave his wife and son in the desert, and to go back to Syria. "The Friend of Allah" had so annihilated his own will and desire, and was so anxious to obey his Lord that he did not allow even a moment to lapse between the command and its execution, and started on his journey without informing his wife. When she noticed that he was going away, she called after him but received no reply. Not even when she demanded why he was forsaking them in such a vast and lonely desert. But she was, after all, the wife of "the Friend of Allah", and could now see for herself how the matters stood. So, she asked if he had received a divine command. Only now Sayyidna Ibrahim عليه السلام replied that it was so. Having understood the situation, she calmly remarked, "Alright. go. The Lord who has commanded you to part from us shall Himself look after us, and not let us be destroyed."

And she sat back in the desert, full of trust and peace, with the infant on her lap. But as time passed, thirst, her own and specially that of her suckling son, compelled her to leave it behind and to go in search of water. She climbed up and down the hills of Safa and Marwah, but had, after seven attempts, to come back unsuccessfully. It is to commemorate this event that running seven times between the two hills has been made an obligatory part of the rites of the Hajj. As she returned to her son, the mercy of Allah descended in the form of the archangel Jibra'il عليه السلام who made a spring of fresh water spout forth from the parched ground the same spring which is now called Zamzam. In a day or two, the water began to draw animals towards itself, and the sight of animals brought men to the place. By and by, the provisions necessary for human life became regularly available, and the future city of Makkah began to take shape.

The infant who was to become Sayyidna Isma'il, عليه السلام began to grow up, and was soon able to take upon himself the usual functions of human life. Under divine permission, Sayyidna Ibrahim عليه السلام came now and then to see how his wife and son were doing. It is now that Allah chose to submit him to the greatest of all possible trials. The son had grown up in such unpromising circumstances, and been deprived of constant fatherly care and affection. Now, the father received the command to slaughter his son with his own hand. Says the Holy Qur'an:

[١٠٢]لَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَىٰ فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَىٰ ۚ قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ

When he had reached the age of being able to help his father in his work, the latter said, 'My son, I see in a dream that I am slaughtering you. Now, say, what do you think?' He replied, 'My father, do as you have been bidden; you shall find me, if Allah so wills, one of the patient'. (37: 102)

Sayyidna Ibrahim عليه السلام took his son to the wilderness of Mina, and fulfilled, so far as he himself was concerned, the divine commandment. But Allah did not really mean to have the son slaughtered, but only to test the father. If we consider the words of the Holy Qur'an just cited, we shall find that in his dream, he had not seen the accomplishment of the slaughter, but only the act of slaughtering. And this much he did perform. In this respect, revelation came to him in the form of a dream, picturing the act, perhaps for this very reason that is to say, Allah did not want to give him a verbal command to Sacrifice his son. Hence, Allah commended him for having صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا "confirmed the dream" (37:105). In recompense for this total submission to divine will, Allah sent down a ram from heaven to be sacrificed in place of Sayyidna Isma'il عليه السلام. Now, the annual sacrifice of sheep or goats etc. has been made a regular form of worship in commemoration of the way of Sayyidna Ibrahim عليه السلام.

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