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Prophet Abraham: The Father of Prophets-3

The Building of God's House in Makkah
By Reading Islam Staff
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The honored House of God was to be established to be the center of worship to which direction people would face when offering prayer

Part 1 - Part 2

It had been close to ten years since Abraham had left his wife and baby in Makkah in the care of God.

After a two-month journey, he was surprised to find Makkah a lot different than how he had left it.

The joy of reunion was soon interrupted by a vision which was to be the ultimate test of his faith; God commanded Abraham through a dream to sacrifice his son, the son he had had after years of prayers and had just met after a decade of separation.

Abraham consulted his son to see if he understood what he was commanded by God:

{So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. And when (his son) was old enough to help in his daily affairs, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So look, what think you? He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded. God willing, you shall find me of the patient.} (37: 101-02)

Greatest Test Ever

Indeed if a person was told by their father that they were to be killed due to a dream, it would not be taken in the best of manners; one may doubt the dream as well as the sanity of the person.

Yet Ishmael knew the station of his father; the pious son of a pious father was committed to submit to God. Abraham took his son to the place where he was to be sacrificed and laid him face down. This is why God has described them in the most beautiful of words, painting a picture of the essence of submission; one which brings tears to the eyes:  

{And when they both submitted (to the command of God), and he (Abraham) laid him (Ishmael) face down upon his forehead (in order to be sacrificed).} (37: 103)

Just as Abraham’s knife was poised to descend, a voice stopped him:

{We called to him: O Abraham: You have indeed fulfilled the vision.  Lo!  Thus do We reward the good.  Lo!  That verily was a clear test.} (37: 104-106)

Indeed, it was the greatest test of all, the sacrificing of his only child, one born to him after he had reached an old age and years of longing for progeny. Here, Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice all his belongings for God, and for this reason, he was designated a leader of all humanity, one whom God blessed with a progeny of Prophets.

{And when his God tested Abraham with various commands, and he proved true to each one.” He (God) said, indeed I have made you a leader of humanity.  He (Abraham) said (requesting of God), ‘and from my progeny.} (2: 124)

Ishmael was ransomed with a ram: {…then We redeemed him with a momentous sacrifice.} (37: 107)

After a separation of several years, again the father and son met

It is this epitome of submission and trust in God which hundreds of millions of Muslims reenact every year during the days of Hajj, a day called Yawm-un-Nahr – The Day of Sacrifice, or Eid-ul-Adhaa - or the Celebration of Sacrifice.

Abraham returned to Palestine, and upon doing so, he was visited by angels who gave him and Sarah the good news of a son, Isaac,

{Lo!  We bring you good tidings of a boy possessing wisdom.} (15: 53)

It is at this time that he is also told about the destruction of the people of Lot.

The Honored House of God

After a separation of several years, again the father and son met. It was on this journey that the two built the Kaabah on God’s command as a permanent sanctuary; a place laid for the worship of God.

It was here, in this same barren desert where Abraham had left Hagar and Ishmael earlier, that he supplicated to God to make it a place where they would establish the prayer, free from idol worship.

{My Lord!  Make safe this territory, and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols. My Lord!  Lo!  They have led many of people astray. But whoever follows me, he verily is of me. And whoever disobeys me, still You are Forgiving, Merciful.

Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near to Your Holy House, our Lord! That they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they may yearn toward them, and provide You them, with fruits in order that they may be thankful.

Our Lord!  Lo! You know that which we hide and that which we proclaim. Nothing in the earth or in the heaven is hidden from God. Praise be to God Who has given me, in my old age, Ishmael and Isaac! Lo! My Lord is indeed the Hearer of prayer. My Lord! 

Many beautiful verses in the Quran describe the sanctity of the Kaabah and the purpose of its building

Make me establish regular prayer, and some of my posterity (also), our Lord! And accept my prayer. Our Lord!  Forgive me and my parents and believers on the Day when the account is cast.} (14: 35-41)

Thus, the honored House of God was to be established to be the center of worship to which direction people would face when offering prayers, and make it a site of pilgrimage. Many beautiful verses in the Quran describe the sanctity of the Kaabah and the purpose of its building:

{And when we assigned to Abraham the place of the House: ‘Do not associate with Me anything, and purify My House for those who circumambulate it, who stand in prayer, and who bow, and prostrate themselves (all in prayer).’ 

And proclaim the Pilgrimage (Hajj) among people, and they shall come to you on foot, and on every lean camel.  They shall come to you from every deep and distant mountain highways.} (22: 26-27)

{And when We made the House (the Kaabah) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray).  And We took a covenant with Abraham and Ishmael that they should purify My House (the Kaabah) for those who compass it round, devote themselves (to worship) in it, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).} (2:125)

The Ka'bah is the first place of worship appointed for all of humanity for the purpose of guidance and blessing:

{Indeed the first House (of worship) appointed for humanity is that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds.  In it are Signs Manifest; (such as), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God,- those who have the ability.} (3:96-97)

Prayers

Abraham also prayed that a prophet be raised from the progeny of Ishmael...

The building of a sanctuary to be held by all latter generations was one of the best forms of worship men of God could ever do. They invoked God during their feat:

{Our Lord!  Accept from us (this duty). Lo!  You, only You, are the Hearer, the Knower. Our Lord! And make us Muslims (submissive to You) and of our seed a Muslim nation (submissive to You), and show us our ways of worship, and forgive us. Lo! You, only You, are the Forgiving, the Merciful. Our Lord!} (2: 127-28)

Abraham also prayed that a prophet be raised from the progeny of Ishmael, who would be the inhabitants this land, as the progeny of Isaac would inhabit the lands of Canaan:  

{And raise up in their midst a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Your revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall purify them of their sins. Lo! You, only You, are the Mighty, the Wise.} (2: 127-29)

Prayer Answered

Abraham’s prayer for a Messenger was answered several thousand years later when God raised Prophet Muhammad among the Arabs, and as Makkah was chosen to be a sanctuary and House of Worship for all humanity, so too was the Prophet of Makkah one sent to all humanity.

It was this pinnacle of the life of Abraham which was the completion of his purpose: the building of a place of worship for all of humanity, not for any chosen race or color, for the worship of the One True God. Through the establishment of this house was the guarantee that God, the God to Whom he called and for Whom he made endless sacrifices, would be worshipped forever, without the association of any other God with Him. Indeed it was one of the greatest of favors bestowed upon any human.

Yearly, Muslims from around the world gather from all walks of life, the answer to the prayer of Abraham and the call to Pilgrimage. This rite is called Hajj, and it commemorates many events of God’s beloved servant Abraham and his family.

After circling the Kaabah, a Muslim prays behind the Station of Abraham, the stone on which Abraham stood to build the Kaabah. After the prayers, a Muslim drinks from the same well, called Zamzam, which flowed in answer to the Prayer of Abraham and Hagar, providing sustenance for Ishmael and Hagar, and was the cause for the inhabitation of the land.

The rite of walking between Safa and Marwah commemorates Hagar’s desperate search for water when she and her baby were alone in Makkah. The sacrifice of an animal in Mina during Hajj, and by Muslims around the world in their own lands is after the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God’s sake. 

Lastly, the stoning of the stone pillars at Mina exemplifies Abraham’s rejection of satanic temptations to prevent him from sacrificing Ishmael.

Summarized from full version of the article at The Religion of Islam - http://www.islamreligion.com
First published in June 2011.
Related Links:
Hajj: A Lifetime Journey (Folder)
Non-Muslims … Get to Know Islam (Folder)
God's Prophets The Creation of Prophet Adam
Prophet Noah and the Call to God (Part 1)
The Story of Prophet Hud

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