Eid ul adha remembers the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to. God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Isma'il. According to Islamic tradition, approximately four thousand years ago, the valley of Mecca (in what is now Saudi Arabia) was a dry, rocky and uninhabited place. Ibrahim was instructed to bring his Egyptian wife Hajirah and Ishmael, his only child at the time to Arabia from the land of Canaan by Allah's command.
As Ibrahim was preparing for his return journey back to Canaan, Hajirah asked him, "Did Allah order you to leave us here? Or are you leaving us here to die." Ibrahim turned around to face his wife. He was so sad that he couldn't say anything. He pointed to the sky showing that Allah commanded him to do so. Hajirah said, "Then Allah will not waste us; you can go". Though Ibrahim had left a large quantity of food and water with Hajirah and Ishmael, the supplies quickly ran out, and within a few days the two began to feel the pangs of hunger and dehydration.
Hajirah ran up and down between two hills called Al-Safa and Al-Marwah seven times, in her desperate quest for water. Exhausted, she finally collapsed beside her baby Ishmael and prayed to Allah for deliverance. Miraculously, a spring of water gushed forth from the earth at the feet of baby Ishmael. Other accounts have the angel Jibrail striking the earth and causing the spring to flow in abundance. With this secure water supply, known as the Zamzam Well, they were not only able to provide for their own needs, but were also able to trade water with passing nomads for food and supplies.
Years later, Ibrahim was instructed by Allah to return from Canaan to build a place of worship adjacent to Zamzam well Ibrahim and Ishmael constructed a stone and mortar structure —known as the Kaaba— which was to be the gathering place for all who wished to strengthen their faith in Allah. As the years passed, Ishmael was blessed with Prophethood (Nubuwwah) and gave the nomads of the desert his message of submission to Allah. After many centuries, Mecca became a thriving desert city and a major center for trade, thanks to its reliable water source, the well of Zamzam.
One of the main trials of Ibrahim's life was to face the command of Allah to devote his dearest possession, his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah's will. During this preparation, Satan (Shaitan) tempted Ibrahim and his family by trying to dissuade them from carrying out Allah's commandment, and Ibrahim drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him. In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars signifying Satan during the Hajj rites.
When Ishmael was about 13 (Ibrahim being 99), Allah decided to test their faith in public. Ibrahim had a recurring dream, in which Allah was commanding him to offer his son as a sacrifice – an unimaginable act – sacrificing his son, which Allah had granted him after many years of deep prayer. Ibrahim knew that the dreams of the prophets were divinely inspired, and one of the ways in which Allah communicated with his prophets. When the intent of the dreams became clear to him, Ibrahim decided to fulfill Allah's command and offer Ishmael for sacrifice. Although Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his dearest for Allah's sake, he could not just go and drag his son to the place of sacrifice without his consent. Ishmael had to be consulted as to whether he was willing to give up his life as fulfillment to Allah's command. This consultation would be a major test of Ishmael's maturity in faith, love and commitment for Allah, willingness to...