THE PROPHET ISMA’IL (peace be upon him)
Advent of Prophet Isma’il and Desertion by his Father:
The Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) was the eldest son of Prophet Ibrahim (peace he upon him) by his second wife Hajira. As he had no off-spring from his first wife Sarah, he entered into matrimonial allegiance with Hajira, a devoted lady. He did so with the consent of his first wife. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace he upon him) prayed to his Lord to bless him with a son. The Prophet Isma’il (peace he upon him) was born to him in response to his prayers. The Holy Qur’an makes mention of it in these words:
“Ibrahim said: My Lord! Grant me of the doers of good deeds. So We gave him the good news of a boy possessing forbearance.” (37: 100, 101)
Shortly after his birth, in obedience to a Divine behest, he was left by his father Ibrahim (peace be upon him) along with his mother at the place where stands Ka’bah. It was a barren and waterless place with no trace of life in any form. The great Patriarch, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) left them to their fate with a heavy heart and prayed:
“O’ Lord! I have made some of my off-spring settle in this barren valley near the Sacred House so that they may keep up prayer.” (14: 37)
The scene of departing Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) from his family was highly pathetic. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbàs that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) brought with him his wife Hajira and his son Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) whom she suckled. They placed the child close by the spot where Ka’bah now stands. In those days Mecca was uninhabited and without water. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) placed beside them a bag full of dates and a skin full of water. When Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) returned, the mother of Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) ran after him and said: Ibrahim! Where are you going? Why have you left me in the wilderness where none is to take pity on us. Nothing is available here to eat and drink. She repeated this several times but Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) did not hearken to her voice. Then she asked him. Have God Commanded you to do so? He replied in affirmative. She said: Then God will cause no harm to me. Thereupon she returned back. When Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) got out of sight, he faced towards Ka’bah and prayed: 0′ Lord! Grant that the hearts of some men may be affected with kindness towards them and bestow upon them all sorts of fruit so that they may be thankful. After this the mother of Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) began to suckle her child and to drink water out of the skin until it was emptied. Soon after her son felt thirsty. She could not bear to see him in such plight. Hajira ran seven times from the hill of Safa to Marwa in quest of water. As she was about to commence the eighth trip, her attention was drawn to the crying child who in the agony of thirst was kicking the ground. Lo! the water gushed forth miraculously from the earth in the form of fountain to save Prophet: Isma’il (peace be upon him) from the tortures of thirst. Then she drank the water and suckled her child. May God bless the mother of Prophet Isma’il! Had she left the Zam Zam as it was or had she not filled her skin with water, the Zam Zam would always have remained an overflowing mountain. (Bukhari)
Trial of Sincerity:
The origin of the custom of true believers running between Safa and Marwa at the time of Hajj is deep connected with Hajira, the mother of Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him). Similarly the rite of sacrifice also owes its origin to the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his obedient son. He had received a Divine Command to sacrifice his beloved son. Both of them stood the test with credit. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) decided to fulfil the vision on one hand whereas the Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) was ready with alacrity to lay down his life to win the favour and pleasure of Allah. While they were proceeding towards Mina for the performance of the solemn duty, Satan tried to dissuade them from their firm resolve but to no effect. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) passed the sharp knife over the throat of his son but an angel turned the knife upside down and a heavenly message forbade the act. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was desired to sacrifice in lieu of his son, a ram. So he slaughtered a well-fed ram presented by Allah. When the Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) grew up, he married a girl of the tribe but soon divorced her at the request of his father to whom she proved to be discourteous. After this he married a daughter of the Jurhum Chief.
Re-construction of the House of Allah:
Ka’bah is the veritable heart of Islam towards which all the prayers of the Muslims flow to vivify their souls. It was built by the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), the father of the human race. When it was damaged by flood, it was reconstructed on the same foundations by the Prophet Ibrahim (peace he upon him) with the help of his son Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him), the ancestors of the Arabs. The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) directed his son to bring a good stone to mark the corner of foundation. He brought one of which the angel Gabriel gave him information. It was the sacred Black stone-Hajar al-Aswad. When the Prophet Ibrahim and Isma’il (peace be upon them) raised the foundations of the House of Allah they prayed:
“Our Lord! Accept from us; surely You are the Hearing, the Knowing. Our Lord! Make us both submissive to You and raise from our off-spring a nation submitting to You and show us ways of devotion and turn to us mercifully. You are the oft-Returning to mercy, the Most Merciful.” (1:127, 128)
“Our Lord! And raise up in them an Apostle from among them who shall recite to them Your communications and teach them the Book and the Wisdom and purify them. Surely You are the Mighty, the Wise.” (2: 129).
Mecca is Habitated:
The Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) and his mother settled down in the vicinity of the Ka’bah. His progeny multiplied and ramified into numerous tribes. One of these is known as the Quraysh from which the Ishmaelite Arabs sprang up. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) belonged to this family. They habitated the city of Mecca which became the centre of Islam.