The Story of Ibrahim

Muslims look into Maqam Ibrahim (The Station of Ibrahim). Inside the Maqam Ibrahim is a stone block where Ibrahim stood to build the Kabah (Photo: iStock by Getty Images).

The story of Ibrahim is greatly associated with Hajj because the origin of Hajj is as old as the Kaaba, which was built by Ibrahim and his son, Ismail. Every act of Hajj reminds us of the noble family of Ibrahim since every act of Hajj refers back to the righteous actions and struggles of either Ibrahim, his wife Hajrah, or his son Ismail.

The history of this family teaches spiritual lessons of complete devotion to Allah and sincerity to Him. It holds an enlightening message for everybody: a father, a mother, a son, and a wife.

The Childhood of Ibrahim

Prophet Ibrahim was born into a family of idolaters, but from early childhood, he was endowed with spiritual understanding. Allah enlightened his heart and mind and gave him wisdom:

"We bestowed aforetime on Ibrahim his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him. (as to his belief in the Oneness of Allah)" [Surah Al Anbiya 21:51]

One day, Ibrahim looked at the sky and the Quran says:

"So also did We show Ibrahim the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth, that he might (with understanding) have certitude. When the night covered him over, He saw a star: He said: 'This is my Lord.' But when it set, he said: 'I love not those that set.' When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said: 'This is my Lord.' But when the moon set, he said: 'Unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.' When he saw the sun rising in splendor, he said: 'This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all).' But when the sun set, he said: 'O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.'" [Surah Al An'am 6:75-79]

Thus, Ibrahim rejected the worship of all celestial bodies, which people venerated and worshiped:

"His people disputed with him. He said: '(Come) ye to dispute with me, about Allah, when He (Himself) hath guided me? I fear not (the beings) ye associate with Allah: Unless my Lord willeth, (nothing can happen). My Lord comprehendeth in His knowledge all things. Will ye not (yourselves) be admonished? How should I fear (the beings) ye associate with God, when ye fear not to give partners to God without any warrant having been given to you? Which of (us) two parties hath more right to security? (tell me) if ye know." [Surah Al An'am 6:80-81]

It was in his childhood that Ibrahim argued with his father, who was not only an ordinary idolater but also completely rejected the existence of Allah. He used to make idols with his own hands. Ibrahim realized the fallacy of the idols; he noticed that these idols did not eat, drink, or talk, and that they could not even turn themselves right-side up if someone turned them upside-down. How could people believe that such statues could harm or benefit them?

"Lo! Ibrahim said to his father Azar: 'Takest thou idols for gods? For I see thee and thy people in manifest error.'" [Surah Al An'am 6:74]

"Behold, he said to his father: 'O my father! why worship that which heareth not and seeth not, and can profit thee nothing? O my father! to me hath come knowledge which hath not reached thee: so follow me: I will guide thee to a way that is even and straight. O my father! serve not Satan: for Satan is a rebel against (Allah) Most Gracious. O my father! I fear lest a Penalty afflict thee from (Allah) Most Gracious, so that thou become to Satan a friend.' (The father) replied: 'Dost thou hate my gods, O Ibrahim? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee: Now get away from me for a good long while!' Ibrahim said: 'Peace be on thee: I will pray to my Lord for thy forgiveness: for He is to me Most Gracious. And I will turn away from you (all) and from those whom ye invoke besides Allah: I will call on my Lord: perhaps, by my prayer to my Lord, I shall be not unblest.'" [Surah Maryam 19:42-48]

He also argued with a skeptic who claimed to be a god (according to commentators, he was Namrud, the King of Babylon):

Allah says in the Quran:

"Hast thou not turned thy vision to one who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord, because Allah had granted him power? Ibrahim said: 'My Lord is He Who Giveth life and death.' He said: 'I give life and death.' Said Ibrahim: 'But it is Allah that causeth the sun to rise from the East: Do thou then cause him to rise from the West.' Thus was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected faith. Nor doth Allah Give guidance to a people unjust." [Surah Al Baqarah 2:258]

Dawah Lessons

In the above discussion, we see an excellent example of the moral behavior of a religious son towards his deviated father. This calls us to undertake the obligation of Dawah and Islah of one's family, as Allah says:

"O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones..." [Surah Al Tahrim 66:6]

The spiritual lessons found in the short conversation between Ibrahim and his father can be stated in four proportions:

  • A pious son is dutiful to his father and wishes him well in everything; material and spiritual.
  • If the father refuses the guidance of Allah, the son does his utmost to bring his father nearer to Allah.
  • Having received the guidance, the son does not renounce it, even if he had to forfeit his father's love and renounce his home.
  • Even if the father repels him and turns him out, he replies in politeness, full of love and forgiveness, but he is firm on behalf of Truth.

The story of Ibrahim also explains the correct conduct and behavior of a Da'i (caller to Islam), which we will enumerate in the following discussion, with examples from the life of Ibrahim:

1. A Da'i should be polite and humble and must avoid all forms of harshness and force. Allah says:

"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." [Surah Al Nahl 16:125]

In this wonderful passage are laid down principles of religious preaching, which are good for all times. Invitation to Islam should be in a humble and courteous manner, with wisdom and discretion, meeting people on their own ground and convincing them with illustrations from their own knowledge and experience, which may be very narrow or very wide. Our preaching must not be dogmatic, self-regarding, or offensive but gentle, considerate, and such as would attract their attention. This is evident from the actions of Ibrahim.

In his debate with those who worshiped celestial bodies, Prophet Ibrahim first clarified to his people the reality of celestial bodies. They do not serve as deities; these bodies are created, fashioned, controlled, managed, and made to serve. They are not worthy to be worshiped as partners with Allah. Then he described unto them that they are among the signs of Allah:

"Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Adore not the sun and the moon, but adore Allah, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve." [Surah Fussilat 41:37]

The next incident, when he argued with the idolaters, he used reasoning:

"That was the reasoning about Us, which We gave to Ibrahim (to use) against his people: We raise whom We will, degree after degree: for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge." [Surah Al An'am 6:83]

2. Being a wise son, he did not make his father feel foolish; nor did he openly laugh at his conduct. He told him that he loved him, thereby hoping to generate fatherly love. Then he gently asked him:

"Behold, he said to his father: 'O my father! why worship that which heareth not and seeth not, and can profit thee nothing?'" [Surah Maryam 19:42]

And before his father could become angry, he hastily said:

"O my father! to me hath come knowledge which hath not reached thee: so follow me: I will guide thee to a way that is even and straight. O my father! serve not Satan: for Satan is a rebel against (Allah) Most Gracious. O my father! I fear lest a Penalty afflict thee from (Allah) Most Gracious, so that thou become to Satan a friend." [Surah Maryam 19:43-45]

In the same way, he again used reasoning with the idol-worshipers and said:

"Behold, he said to his father and his people: 'What worship ye?' They said: 'We worship idols, and we remain constantly in attendance on them.' He said: 'Do they listen to you when ye call (on them), or do you good or harm?' They said: 'Nay, but we found our fathers doing thus (what we do).' He said: 'Do ye then see whom ye have been worshipping,-'" [Surah Al Shu'ara' 26:71-75]

However, they (the idolaters) did not give up but clung fast to idolatry. Then he (AS) said:

"And by God, I have a plan for your idols - after ye go away and turn your backs." [Surah Al Anbiya 21:57]

Ibrahim (AS) knew that there was going to be a celebration on the other side of the river, which would be attended by all people. They invited Ibrahim to join them in the celebrations, but:

"Then did he cast a glance at the Stars. And he said, 'I am indeed sick (at heart)!' So they turned away from him and departed." [Surah Al Saffat 37:88]

He did this trick to remain in their temple and to destroy the idols. Ibrahim waited until the city was empty:

"Then did he turn to their aliha (gods) and said, 'Will ye not eat (of the offerings before you)? What is the matter with you that ye speak not (intelligently)?' Then did he turn upon them, striking (them) with the right hand." [Surah Al Saffat 37:91-93]

"So he broke them to pieces, (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it." [Surah Al Anbiya 21:58]

He enacted this scene to make the people ashamed of worshiping powerless and senseless stocks and stones. He broke all the idols except the biggest, so as to show that a fight had taken place between the idols and the biggest idol had smashed the others. So, when they came back:

"They said, 'Who has done this to our aliha (gods)? He must indeed be some man of impiety!' They said, 'We heard a youth talk of them: He is called Ibrahim.' They said, 'Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may bear witness.' They said, 'Art thou the one that did this with our gods, O Ibrahim?' He said: 'Nay, this was done by - this is their biggest one! ask them, if they can speak intelligently!' So they turned to themselves and said, 'Surely ye are the ones in the wrong!' Then were they confounded with shame: (they said), 'Thou knowest full well that these (idols) do not speak!' (Ibrahim) said, 'Do ye then worship, besides Allah, things that can neither be of any good to you nor do you harm? Fie upon you, and upon the things that ye worship besides Allah! Have ye no sense?' They said, 'Burn him and protect your gods, If ye do (anything at all)!' We said, 'O Fire! be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Ibrahim!' Then they sought a stratagem against him: but We made them the ones that lost most!" [Surah Al Anbiya 21:59-70]

In Surah Maryam, the challenge was how a righteous Muslim deals with his father when his duty to his father conflicts with his duty to Allah. Here, the challenge was how a righteous man deals with evil and overcomes it and how his firmness in his belief draws Allah's Mercy and makes troubles his comfort and joy. The spiritual lesson of this passage can be summarized as that a righteous man makes no compromise with evil. If the followers of evil mock him, he pays them in their own coin but stands firm by his principles. Even if they harm him or try to kill him, he declares his faith in Allah. Another rule of Dawah is that the invitation to Islam should not imply compulsion since compulsion is incompatible with religion for two reasons: Religion depends upon one's faith and will, which would be meaningless if induced by force. Truth is clearly distinguished from error. Allah says: "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things." [Surah Al Baqarah 2:256]

The Migration of Ibrahim

Prophet Ibrahim did his best to make his people heedful of the Oneness of Allah and to worship Him alone. He bade them to firmly renounce the worship of idols. He tried every means possible to convince them.

However, their arrogance would not allow them to admit their foolishness. Ibrahim realized the senselessness of their beliefs when:

"(The father) replied: 'Dost thou hate my gods, O Ibrahim? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee: Now get away from me for a good long while!' Ibrahim said: 'Peace be on thee: I will pray to my Lord for thy forgiveness: for He is to me Most Gracious. And I will turn away from you (all) and from those whom ye invoke besides Allah: I will call on my Lord: perhaps, by my prayer to my Lord, I shall be not unblest.'" [Surah Maryam 19:46-48]

And he said (after his rescue from the fire):

"He said: 'I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me!'" [Surah Al Saffat 37:99]

And he left his father's house and abandoned his people and what they worshiped! He migrated with his wife, Sarah, to a city called Ur, then to another called Haran, Palestine, and then to Egypt, calling people to believe in Allah.

The Three Lies

Narrated Abu Hurayrah:

Abu Hurayrah said that Ibrahim did not tell a lie except on three occasions. Twice for the sake of Allah when he said, "I am sick," and he said, "(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it." The third was when Ibrahim and Sarah (his wife) were going (on a journey) they passed by (the territory of) a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant, "This man (i.e., Ibrahim) is accompanied by a very charming lady." So, he sent for Ibrahim and asked him about Sarah, saying, "Who is this lady?" Ibrahim said, "She is my sister." Ibrahim went to Sarah and said, "O Sarah! There are no believers on the surface of the earth except you and I. This man asked me about you and I have told him that you are my sister, so don't contradict my statement."

The tyrant then called Sarah, and when she went to him, he tried to take hold of her with his hand, but (his hand got stiff and) he was confounded. He asked Sarah, "Pray to Allah for me, and I shall not harm you." So Sarah asked Allah to cure him and he got cured. He tried to take hold of her for the second time, but (his hand got as stiff as or stiffer than before and) was more confounded. He again requested Sarah, "Pray to Allah for me, and I will not harm you." Sarah asked Allah again, and he became alright. He then called one of his guards (who had brought her) and said, "You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil."

The tyrant then gave Hajar as a girl-servant to Sarah. Sarah came back (to Ibrahim) while he was praying. Ibrahim, gesturing with his hand, asked, "What has happened?" She replied, "Allah has spoiled the evil plot of the infidel (or immoral person) and gave me Hajar for service." (Abu Huraira then addressed his listeners saying, "That (Hajar) was your mother, O Bani Ma-is-Sama (i.e., the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael, Hajar's son)." [Sahih Bukhari, Book #55, Hadith #578]

Ibrahim then left Egypt with his wife, Sarah, lots of gifts, money, and also Hajrah, the Egyptian woman.

The Birth of Ismail

Sarah, the (first) wife of Ibrahim was sterile. Ibrahim invoked Allah for a child, saying:

"O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!" [Surah Al Saffat 37:100]

It happened that Sarah offered her husband Hajrah in marriage.

"So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear." [Surah Al Saffat 37:101]

Hajrah gave birth to his first son, Ismail when Ibrahim was at the age of eighty-six. The name Ismail itself comes from the root word 'Samia,' meaning 'to hear,' because Allah heard and answered the invocation of Ibrahim.

The Migration of Ibrahim with Hajrah and Ismail

Allah commanded Prophet Ibrahim to leave his second wife, Hajrah, and their newly born son, Ismail, alone in an uninhabited, barren valley. So, Ibrahim asked his wife, Hajrah, to prepare for a long journey. They walked through cultivated land, deserts, and mountains, until they reached the desert of the Arabian peninsula and came to a valley having no fruit, no trees, no food, and no water; the valley had no sign of life.

Ibn Abbas narrated:

"... Ibrahim brought her (Hajrah) and her son, Ismail, while she was suckling him, to a place near the Kaaba under a tree on the spot of Zam-Zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Makkah, nor was there any water. So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ismail's mother followed him saying: '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.' She said: 'Then He will not neglect us.' and she returned (to her child) while Ibrahim proceeded on his way. On reaching the Thaniya (mountain) where they could not see him, Ibrahim faced the Kaaba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah, saying the following prayer: 'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: so that they may give thanks.'" [Surah Ibrahim 14:37]..." [Sahih Bukhari Book# 55, Hadith# 583]

The Spring of Zam-Zam and the Course of Safa wal-Marwa

Ibn Abbas further continued the story saying:

"Ismail's mother went on suckling Ismail and drinking from the water (she had). When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e., Ismail) tossing in agony. She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times.

The Prophet said:

"This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e., Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time), she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said: 'O (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?' And behold! She saw an Angel at the place of Zam-Zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."

The Prophet further added:

"May Allah bestow Mercy on Ismail's mother! Had she let the Zam-Zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-Zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the Earth."

The Prophet further added:

"Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The Angel said to her: 'Don't 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 House (i.e., Kaaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e., the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Makkah where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said: 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)."

He further related:

"Ismail's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her: 'Do you allow us to stay with you?' She replied: 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said: "Ismail's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she loved the company of people. So, they settled there, and later on, they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e., Ismail) grew up and learned Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them." After Ismail's mother had died, Ibrahim came after Ismail's marriage to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ismail there. When he asked Ismail's wife about him, she replied, 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, 'We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,' complaining to him. He said, 'When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).' When Ismail came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, 'Has anyone visited you?' She replied, 'Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in hardship and poverty.' On that Ismail said, 'Did he advise you anything?' She replied, 'Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.' Ismail said, 'It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.' So, Ismail divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e., Jurhum). Then Ibrahim stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ismail. So he came to Ismail's wife and asked her about Ismail. She said, 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Ibrahim asked her, 'How are you getting on?' asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied, 'We are prosperous and well-off (i.e., we have everything in abundance).' Then she thanked Allah. Ibrahim said, 'What kind of food do you eat?' She said, 'Meat.' He said, 'What do you drink?' She said, 'Water.' He said, 'O Allah! Bless their meat and water.' The Prophet added, 'At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it.' The Prophet added, 'If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Makkah.' The Prophet added, 'Then Ibrahim said to Ismail's wife, 'When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.' When Ismail came back, he asked his wife, 'Did anyone call on you?' She replied, 'Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,' so she praised him and added, 'He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in good condition.' Ismail asked her, 'Did he give you any piece of advice?' She said, 'Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.' On that Ismail said, 'It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.'" [Sahih Bukhari]

The Order to Sacrifice Ismail

"And when he (Ismail) was old enough to walk with him (Ibrahim), he said: 'O my son! I have seen in a vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!' He said: 'O my father! Do that which you are Commanded, Insha'Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of as-Sabirin (the patient ones).' Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); and We called out to him: 'O Ibrahim! You have fulfilled the vision!' Verily, Thus, do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers). Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (a ram). And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. 'Salam (peace) be upon Ibrahim.' Thus indeed We reward the Muhsinin." [Surah Al Saffat 37:102-105]

The sacrifice was a trial for both Ibrahim and Ismail, and they both readily agreed to submit their will to Allah. Today, Muslims often lack the spirit and fortitude to sacrifice in the Way of Allah and submit to His Will. This is why they face various challenges. If Muslims today generate the courage and determination to sacrifice their wealth and possessions for the sake of Allah, then Allah does not forsake His true worshipers.

"It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him:" [Surah Al Hajj 22:37]

The Building of the Kaaba

"Behold! We gave the site, to Ibrahim, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): 'Associate not anything (in worship) with Me;..." [Surah Al Hajj 22:26]

Allah tells us that He showed Ibrahim the site of the House, i.e., guided him to it, entrusted it to him, and granted him permission to build the Kaaba.

"...and sanctify My House for those who circumambulate it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer)." [Surah Al Hajj 22:26]

Meaning, make it purely for those who worship Allah alone, without any partners. In this verse, Allah mentioned the Tawaf (circumambulation) and Salat together because they are not prescribed together anywhere except at the Kaaba; Tawaf is only performed around the Kaaba and the Salat facing it.

The Messenger of Allah said:

"Then Ibrahim stayed away from them (Hajrah and Ismail) for a period as long as Allah wished, and called on them afterwards. He saw Ismail under a tree near Zam-Zam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Ibrahim, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father). 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."

The Prophet added:

"Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e., the Kaaba). Ismail brought the stones and Ibrahim was building, and when the walls became high, Ismail brought this stone and put it for Ibrahim who stood over it and carried on building, while Ismail was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying,

'O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.'" [Surah Al Baqarah 2:127]

The Prophet added,

"Then both of them went on building and going round the Kaaba saying: 'O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.'" [Sahih Al Bukhari, vol: 4, no: 583]

Ibrahim completed the building of the Kaaba on the Command of Allah. In his time, the building of the Kaaba was rectangular in shape and reached the height of four and a half meters. It contained two doors at the ground level but had no roof. Ibrahim placed Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone) at one of the corners of the Kaaba to mark the starting point of Tawaf (circumambulation).

The building of the Kaaba remained the same until the Quraysh rebuilt the Kaaba. Narrated 'Aishah: Allah's Apostle said (to her):

"Don't you see that when your folk built the Kaaba, they did not build it on all the foundations built by Ibrahim?" I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Why don't we rebuild it on the foundations of Ibrahim?" He said. "But for the fact that your folk have recently given up infidelity (I would have done so)." Narrated Ibn Umar: 'Aishah must have heard this from Allah's Apostle for I see that Allah's Apostle used not to touch the two corners facing Al-Hijr only because the House had not been built on the foundations of Ibrahim." [Sahih Bukhari Book# 55, Hadith# 587]

After Ibrahim built the Kaaba, Allah ordered him to:

"And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men:..." [Surah Al Hajj 22:27]

Meaning announce the pilgrimage to mankind and call them to perform pilgrimage to this House, which We have commanded you to build.

It is reported in at-Tabari (18: 605,607) from Ibn Abbas and others that Ibrahim said:

'O Lord, how can I convey this to people when my voice will not reach them?' It was said: 'Call them and We will convey it.'

So Ibrahim stood up and said: 'O Mankind! Your Lord has established a House so come on pilgrimage to it.' The mountains lowered themselves so that his voice would reach all regions of the Earth, and those who were still in their mother's wombs and their father's loins would hear the call. The response came from everyone in the cities, deserts, and countryside, and those whom Allah decreed will make the pilgrimage until the Day of Judgment, as Allah said:

"...they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways;" [Surah Al Hajj 22:27]

Supplications of Ibrahim

After the construction of the Kaaba, Ibrahim invoked Allah to bless the city of Makkah and those who live therein and provide them with provisions:

"And remember Ibrahim said: 'My Lord, make this a City of Peace, and feed its people with fruits,-such of them as believe in God and the Last Day.'..." [Surah Al Baqarah 2:126]

And thus Allah responded to the call of Ibrahim:

"Remember We made the House (the Kaaba) a place of assembly for men and a place of safety;..." [Surah Al Baqarah 2:125]


"...Have We not established for them a secure sanctuary, to which are brought as tribute fruits of all kinds,- a provision from Ourselves? but most of them understand not." [Surah Al Qasas 28:57]

Ibn Abbas said: "On the day of the conquest of Makkah, Allah's Messenger said:

"Allah has made this town a sanctuary. Its thorny bushes should not be cut, its game should not be chased, and its fallen things should not be picked up except by one who would announce it publicly." [Sahih Bukhari, Book #26, Hadith #657]

Ibrahim also invoked Allah to:

"Our Lord! Send amongst them an Apostle of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise." [Surah Al Baqarah 2:129]

and indeed Allah answered his invocation and sent Prophet Muhammad, who was born in Makkah and from where Islam spread throughout the world.

The Glad Tidings of Ishaque and Yaqub

One day Ibrahim was sitting outside his tent, and three Angels in human shape descended to the earth; Jibreel, Israfeel, and Mika'eel. Ibrahim arose and welcomed them:

"They said: 'Salam' (greetings or peace). He answered Salam and hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not toward it (the meal), he felt some mistrust of them and conceived fear of them. They said: 'Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lut.' And his wife was standing (there), she laughed. But We gave her glad tidings of Ishaque and Yaqub. She said (in astonishment): 'Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I am an old woman, and here is my husband, an old man? Verily! This is a strange thing!' They said: 'Do you wonder at the Decree of Allah? The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, O family (of Ibrahim). Surely, He (Allah) is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.'" [Surah Al-Hud 11:69-73]

"And We gave (Ibrahim) Ishaque and Yaqub..." [Surah Al 'Ankabut 29:27]

Ibrahim, an Imam (Leader) to the People

After Ibrahim qualified in all the trials of Allah, He, the Exalted, decided to make him an Imam, meaning a Prophet and leader and an example for the people to come:

"And remember that Ibrahim was tried by his Lord with certain Commands, which he fulfilled: He said: 'I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.' He pleaded: 'And also (Imams) from my offspring!' He answered: 'But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.'" [Surah Al Baqarah 2:124]

"...and We granted him his reward in this life; and he was in the Hereafter (of the company) of the Righteous." [Surah Al 'Ankabut 29:27]

Allah granted Prophethood and Divine Books to his progeny:

"We gave him Ishaque and Yaqub: all (three) We guided: and before him, We guided Nuh, and among his progeny, Dawud, Sulaiman, Ayyub, Yusuf, Musa, and Harun: thus do We reward those who do good: And Zakariya and Yahya, and Isa and Ilyas: all in the ranks of the righteous: And Ismail and Al-Yas'a, and Yunus, and Lut: and to all We gave favor above the nations: (To them) and to their fathers, and progeny and brethren: We chose them, and We guided them to a straight Way. This is the Guidance of Allah: He giveth that guidance to whom He pleaseth, of His worshippers. If they were to join other gods with Him, all that they did would be vain for them." [Surah Al An'am 6:84-88]

Thus, every Book (Scripture) was given to the Prophets from the progeny of Ibrahim. From Ishaque, the second son of Ibrahim, came the Prophets of Israel, and their progeny culminated in Isa (AS). From Ismail, the first son of Ibrahim, came only one Prophet, the superior among them and the seal of them, which is Prophet Muhammad.

Thus, Ibrahim acquires great respect and honor in the hearts of Muslims. He is the most superior of the Prophets after Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, when we send prayers and blessings on our Prophet, we are also ordered to mention his name.

Narrated by Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Laila:

"Ka'b bin Ujrah met me and said, 'Shall I not give you a present I got from the Prophet?' 'Abdur-Rahman said, 'Yes, give it to me.' I said, 'We asked Allah's Apostle saying, 'O Allah's Apostle! How should one (ask Allah to) send blessings on you, the members of the family, for Allah has taught us how to salute you (in the prayer)?' He said, 'Say: O Allah! Send Your Mercy on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent Your Mercy on Ibrahim and on the family of Ibrahim, for You are the Most Praise-worthy, the Most Glorious. O Allah! Send Your Blessings on Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You sent your Blessings on Ibrahim and on the family of Ibrahim, for You are the Most Praise-worthy, the Most Glorious.''" [Sahih Bukhari, Book #55, Hadith #589]

(Source: As-Sunnah Newsletter - Sister Shawana A. Aziz)

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Older Comments:
I have learnt a lot from this article that Allah as it is only through the mercy of Allah that someones proportion of knowledge increases.