The Prophet Abraham was born into a community of idolaters, where his own father made statues of wood and stone for worship. Since early childhood, Abraham was averse to this practice, finding it difficult to understand how man could adore objects of their own creation. This mindset hardened as he grew older, pitting him against his family and everyone around him. He would reason with them, using logic and argument to expose the fallacy of their notions, but was unable to overcome their adherence to their beliefs. Matters came to a head when, in frustration with their stubbornness, Abraham took an axe to all the idols that lay in their temple, save one around whose neck he hung his weapon. When accused, he replied the destruction must have been the work of the statue that remained which should be questioned; it brought home to them the fact that a lifeless object could not even speak in its defense, much less possess divine powers.
However, determined to punish Abraham, the people dug an enormous pit and filled it with firewood to burn. Abraham was catapulted into the raging fire, but Allah ordered the fire to cool and Abraham emerged unscathed. He continued to implore his people to abandon their ways and worship the one true Creator, but found success with only two people: Sarah, whom he married, and Lot, who became a prophet. Abraham and Sarah migrated from their homeland.
Abraham had two sons; Ishmael was born of Hajar, Sarah’s Egyptian servant whom she gave to Abraham in marriage because Sarah could not have a child. Isaac was born of Sarah a few years later.
When Ishmael was still a baby, Abraham took him and his mother to an uncultivated desert land and left them there with a few days worth of food and water. When the water ran out, Hajar, in search of relief for her son, climbed the mountain closest to her, As Safa, but found nothing. She descended and crossed the valley to ascend the mountain Al Marwa, with the same result. In distress, she continued back and forth, and would repeat the process seven times before an angel came and dug the earth from where the water of Zam Zam would flow. Hajar’s flight along the valley and mountains marks the origin of the Sa’y rituals of the Hajj.
When Ishmael was still a child, Abraham, who visited Ishmael and his mother time and again, saw a dream in which he was sacrificing his son. The visions persisted; perturbed, Abraham shared them with Ishmael and his belief that he was instructed in this by Allah. Ishmael told his father that he must do as he was commanded. Abraham led Ishmael to Mount Arafat to carry out the ritual. Enroute, in what is today Mina, the devil tried to persuade him against it and Abraham, undeterred in his decision, threw stones at him (a ritual commemorated in Hajj). Once atop the mountain, Ishmael lay himself down and Abraham, his eyes covered, raised his knife to do what was his bidding. But on opening them he saw that Allah had replaced Ishmael with a lamb; Abraham had passed the test that had been put to him.
More people eventually settled into the area and Ishmael married within the community. Years later, Abraham asked Ishmael to help him construct a house on a nearby hillock, as he had been instructed by Allah. Thus, father and son together built the Holy Kaaba.
After his death, Abraham was buried in a land which is current day Hebron, in the West Bank, alongside the prophets Isaac, Jacob and Joseph in the Cave of Patriarchs. Also buried there are all their respective wives. The graves lie under tombs, over and around which was constructed the Masjid-e-Ibrahimi or the Al Khalil Mosque.
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