When Ismail had reached the age of doing a man’s work side by side with his father, i.e when he was mature and was capable of working with his father, a vision came to Ibrahim, ordering him to cut the throat of his son, i.e sacrifice him for Allah.
It was a tremendous trial from Allah-The Most High, to His Friend Ibrahim to slaughter the beloved son of Ibrahim who came to him at an advanced age, after ordering him to take him and his mother to a distant land.
With his pure understanding of the truth, he knew that his Lord, who is endlessly merciful and compassionate, had no need or desire for blood to be sacrificed and offered to Him. It was an order from the Almighty for Ibrahim, and he passed this test. Ibrahim A.S did not question Allah’s order nor dispute His Will.
Ibrahim A.S then asked his son to see how he responded to this order of Allah saying, O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you. ” (Qur’an 37:102).
The forbearing son made his father immensely happy by saying, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, among the steadfast. ” (Qur’an 37:102).
And this was the utmost a son could do in obedience to his father and in obedience to his Lord. Young as he was, Ismail was trained in perfect obedience – firstly to his Lord and secondly to his father, a prophet of tremendous spiritual stature.
Ibrahim and his young son set out to fulfil the vision, carrying a length of rope and a sharp knife. Ibn Abbas RA reports that when the two of them passed the place where Hagar hastened between Safa and Marwah, Shaytan appeared to Ibrahim and ran after him.
But Ibrahim outran him and continued on his way, accompanied by Jibrael A.S. When Ibrahim A.S reached the site at which the stone pillar stands in Mina, Shaytan came to him again. Ibrahim threw 7 pebbles at him to drive him away and continued toward his destination.
On the side of the middle stone pillar, Shaytan reappeared, and again Ibrahim threw 7 pebbles at him. Finally, when Shaytan realised that Ibrahim A.S was firm and intent upon carrying out Allah’s command, he left him alone.
Soon the father and son reached the place to carry out the sacrifice. It is reported that Ismail was wearing a white shirt. “Oh my father,” he said, “I have no garment to be buried in except this, so take it off me and bury me in it.”
And when they had both submitted, he put him down upon his forehead, (Qur’an 37:103). Ibrahim was about to cut his throat in such a way as not to see his face. He started cutting with the knife at his throat but it would not cut at all.
Then Allah Most High called out to Ibrahim that the objective of his testing and obedience, and his willingness to carry out his Lord’s command had been achieved. (Qur’an 37:104-105).
That is why Allah says in the Qur’an: Indeed, this was a clear trial. And he ransomed him with a great sacrifice, (Qur’an 3:106-107) and replaced him with something which was easy for him to sacrifice in the place of his son.
The majority of commentators say that it was a white ram, wide-eyed and with big horns. Allah knows best.
The term “great sacrifice” obviously refers to much more than the specific animal that was provided as a ransom for the life of Ismail.
Allah ordained the offering of animal sacrifices on the same day throughout the world to be an established Sunnah up to the Day of Resurrection, thereby keeping alive the memory of Ibrahim’s unparalleled faithfulness and devotion to His command.
Lesson from the story of Ibrahim and Ismail.
Total surrender of own personal wills and unswerving commitment to carrying out the Will of the Lord which is communicated to the innermost being without question, without reasons, even if it goes against logic, common sense, everything is accepted as seasonable and right.
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