|Prophet Isma'il (AS)|
ISMA'IL AND HAJAR IN MECCA
Prophet Ibrahim's wife, Sara, was barren; furthermore, she had reached the age which had made her lose hope of ever bearing children. She realised that her kind and loyal husband wanted to have a child and was constantly sad and upset. In order to relieve her husband's sorrow, Sara gave her personal maidservant, Hajar, to him. Hajar became pregnant and gave birth to a boy whom they called Isma'il (Peace Be Upon Him).
The infant delighted Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and filled im with joy. Sara, however, was tormented by jealousy which saddened and disturbed her. She soon reached the point that she could no longer tolerate seeing Hajar and the child, so she asked her husband to send them to a place so remote that there would be no news of them.
Prophet Ibrahim (P.B.UH), by the command of God, accepted Sara's request. He took Hajar and Isma'il (AS) with him and began journeying until, under the guidance of God, they entered the land of Mecca. He left them there and returned to Sara.
Hajar, that helpless woman with her suckling baby, was left alone in that waterless and bare desert far from any city or town. But Hajar had learned the way of trust in and reliance on God from Ibrahim (AS), so with faith in God, she followed the path of patience and tolerance. She lived on the provisions that she had until they were used up and hunger and thirst overcame her. Her milk dried up, leaving her baby hungry and thirsty also.
Hoping to find water to save her baby's life, Hajar began to search in the desert; but the more she searched, the less she found. Helplessly, she returned to Isma'il (P.B.UH) and found him crying restlessly. Seeing her baby in this condition broke her heart. She, too, began weeping; she didn't know what to do. Again, she ran this way and that way in that horrible desert, hoping to find water; until, completely disappointed and with tear-filled eyes, she returned to her baby.
The baby was overcome with weakness; it seemed that he was passing the last moments of-life. Standing beside her baby, weeping and wailing, Hajar was watching that heartbreaking scene, when suddenly a clear spring gushed out from the ground and began to flow under Isma'il's feet. Hajar was delighted; she sat on the ground next to her baby, wet his lips and poured some of the water into his parched mouth, refreshing him. The danger to his life was over. Hajar also drank some water, recovered her strength, and praised God.
Little by little, birds came to use the water of the spring. The tribe of Jorham, which dwelt in the area, discovered the spring because of the birds flying overhead and the tribe then settled beside it. Hajar became acquainted with them, and her fear and loneliness were removed. In this way, the prayer of Ibrahim (AS) was answered; when he left them in that desert, he had prayed to God, saying, "Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley near your Sacred House, so that they could be steadfast in prayer. Lord, fill the hearts of the people with love for them and produce fruits for their sustenance, so that they may give thanks." From time to time, Ibrahim (AS)Would go to see Hajar and his child. Visiting them made him happy and re-strengthened.
When Isma'il (AS) had grown into a young man, Ibrahim (AS) dreamt that God ordered him to sacrifice Isma'il with his own hand.
ISMA'IL GETS READY TO FULFILL WHAT GOD HAD COMMANDED
Ibrahim (AS) knew that the dream was, in fact, a revelation from God and not a satanic whisper; so, he prepared himself, with a heart overflowing with faith, to carry out the command of God. He went to see his son and told him, "I saw in a dream that I sacrificed you for the sake of God. Think about it and tell me your opinion of the matter."
Isma'il, being from that noble family and the child of that pious father, replied without hesitation or anxiety, "O father, fulfil what God has commanded. By His will, you will find me among the patient."
Ibrahim (AS), this man of God, who had faced many difficulties and hardships and had won over them all, he who had succeeded in these great, divine trials, also triumphed with glory in this trail. In the desert of Mena, the same place where pilgrims offer their sacrifices today, the cheek of Ibrahim's beloved son touched the ground. Ibrahim (AS) took a knife in his hand and, when he was prepared to offer his sacrifice, Isma'il (AS) said, "Dear father, tie my hands and feet tightly with a piece of rope so that I don't move them as I am dying, because I am afraid that I would lessen my reward. Keep your clothes away from me so that my blood doesn't splatter on you; if my mother sees that, she may not be able to tolerate it. Sharpen the knife well and sever my head at once so that I can tolerate it better, because dying is difficult."
Ibrahim (AS) said, "Dear son, you are a good assistant in fulfilling the command of God." He put the knife on Isma'il's throat and, with all his strength, tried to cut; but, by God's Will, the knife didn't cut and didn't harm Isma'il (AS). Ibrahim (AS) received a revelation from God, the Exalted, "O Ibrahim, truly you have done your duty, fulfilled the meaning of your dream and shown your submissiveness and devotion."
A sacrifice was then sent from God as Isma'il's ransom. Ibrahim (P.B.UH)sacrificed that sheep instead of his son. Ibrahim and his son returned from the alter; Isma'il (AS) went to his mother and Ibrahim (P.B.UH) returned to his wife, Sara. From that day, sacrifice in the land of Mena became a tradition. Later, when Islam was revealed, God prescribed, as a rite, that pilgrims offer a sacrifice of animals in that desert each year in commemoration of Isma'il's sacrifice.
Isma'il (P.B.UH), who had become friendly with the Jorham tribe, married a chaste woman who was worthy in all aspects, and God gave them children from that pure woman.
Isma'il's mother, Hajar, died in that same land after a few years. He was deeply affected by the death of his devoted mother and became very distressed and sad. Ibrahim (AS) continued to go there to visit him; and this consoled Isma'il somewhat.
IBRAHIM BUILDS KA'BA
One time that Ibrahim (AS) went to Mecca, he told his son, "My dear son, God has commanded me to rebuild His Holy House, the Ka'ba." Ibrahim (P.B U.H.) immediately declared his readiness to help Ibrahim (P.B.UH) fulfil the Divine commandment. With reliance on the Divine Power, they hurried to the site of the Ka'ba with the necessary tools; and began the job with a firm intention.
They called upon God, "Our Lord! Accept this service from us, for You are the All-Hearing, All-Knowing. Our Lord! Make us Muslims, bowing to Your Will; and make our progeny Muslims, bowing to Your Will. Show us our places for the celebration of due rites, and turn to us in mercy, for You are the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful."
Isma'il (AS) gathered stones from the desert and Ibrahim (AS) rebuilt the Ka'ba; until the walls were raised. Jibra'il-God's esteemed angel, who was Ibrahim's guide in all situations-showed them the site of "Hajar-ol-Aswad", the black stone. They dug the stone out of the ground, and Ibrahim (AS)placed it in the spot where it remains today. He made two doors for the Ka'ba; one toward the East, the other toward the West.
When the construction of the Ka'ba was completed, Ibrahim (AS) and Isma'il (AS)performed the pilgrimage (Hajj) rites. Then Ibrahim (AS) raised his hands in supplication, saying, "My Lord, make this a city of peace and feed with fruits those of its people who believe in God and the Last Day."
Noah was a great messenger of God. He laboured hard to propagate theism even though he was persecuted by many individuals. Although he lived an extended life and did much to promulgate his religion, few people accepted his faith and believed in him because they practised idolatry. Blessings in abundance were anticipated from these images which were nothing but man's handicrafts. Nevertheless, they sought protection and refuge in their idols whenever faced with hardship and adversity, begging them for release and deliverance as well as pardon. Daily activities and other life events were attributed to the idols; will, and various names and titles were bestowed upon them.
In such chaos, Noah was granted a prophet's mission by God, the Almighty, to go among the people and show them the true path. He was in actuality a wise man as well as a fair-spoken person with unlimited tolerance in the face of difficulties. He was also endowed with divine power that enabled him, through logical conviction, to be victorious in debates or disputes.
Noah called his people to God, but the ignorant did not accept the sacred invitation. He then learned them of God's wrath, but they were still stubborn in rejecting the summons. He also tried to make them hopeful of God's rich reward, but they utterly refused his words, plugging their ears with their fingers, and pretending that they did not hear. Despite these disobedience's, Noah tolerated all persecution with patience and tirelessly continued preaching his sermons. Using the day and the night, he attempted to put every policy he knew into action to draw the people's attention towards the wonders and mysteries of the universe. Addressing his speech to them, he said:
Lo! Look at this dark night, at that high sky, this bright moon, the shining sun, the vast earth, the running rivers, the boundless seas and the multicoloured plants, and see for yourselves how all these phenomena speak eloquently of the One God and His amazing omnipotence.
This was the way of reasoning in which Noah called the people to worship of the Single God. Gradually a few individuals accepted his creed and accepted his Prophethood. However, being vile and vicious, the chiefs of his tribe did not submit to his summons. Consequently, they began hurting Noah and ridiculing him as if he were mad.
They possessed large amounts of riches, held high ranks and positions among their people and therefore believed themselves to be superior to others. Thus they used to tell Noah:
You are a human being just as we are human beings similar and equal to us. If it were God's will to dispatch a prophet, he would have sent an angel which is not of our species and essence. We would then have listened to its words and accepted its calling. Besides, they continued, (only a few common people, holding lowly jobs, have been converted as your followers. They are all ignorant and unenlightened about what they do in accepting your creed. Had your faith reported good tidings of benevolence and prosperity, we would not have been preceded by these rogues and rascals. You should have known that intelligent persons like us would believe in you first and become your disciple.
Having augmented their obstinacy and hostility, those wicked people then said :
O Noah, we do not grant you and your followers any privilege or preference. Not only you do possess a low level of intellect and foresight in comparison to us, but you are actually a host of liars and offenders.
Their foolish words as well as their meaningless speeches had no impact upon Noah. He continued as patiently as before by answering: I have definite proof of the truth of my claim, and I have been endowed with God's blessing. But since you are inwardly blind. you cannot have deep insight of the truth. You intend to eclipse the shining sun with your. bare hands and veil the moonlight and twinkling stars. How can I lead you to the true path and persuade you to believe in God, when I find you bound by your ignorance and obstinacy.
In idiocy, they replied :
O! Noah, if you expect us to be guided and believe in your Prophethood and become your companions, you should have these rogues and rascals who pretend to be your followers cast out. You must know that we are superior to them; therefore, we cannot co-operate with them.
How can we be expected to accept a faith which favours the superior along with the inferior equally, not making a distinction between monarchs and beggars?
My summons is the divine grace of God, embracing all, and people of all classes or ranks are equal in this faith. Accepting your request in relation to the dismissal of men a round me would result in the problem of whom I should trust with the confirmation of my mission and Prophethood. Furthermore, how could I dismiss the faithful souls who have cordially assembled to assist me while you despised me? Whatever I declared, they accepted while you did not listen to any of my words and harassed me instead. These believers have always defended God's faith, taking the role of guides to His path.
If I were to abolish them what would be my answer to God upon hearing their complaints about my bad deeds in return for their good ones.
Noah concluded his speech with :
O! people, you are all ignorant as well as stubborn.
Due to the intensity of the Opposition and enmity against Noah and his people, they became hopeless and said :
O! Noah, you have disputed against us and surpassed the bounds of quarrelling. Now if you are telling the truth, let the promised curse descend upon us - that catastrophe which we have been threatened with.
Smiling bitterly, Noah replied :
You indulge yourselves in ignorance and continue the wrong way. Who am I to send a curse upon you or rescue you from punishment. I am but a human being as you are. I am sometimes inspired through divine revelation that there is only one God and that there is nothing or anyone similar to Him. I communicate what Jam inspired to you. Sometimes I give you glad tidings so that you will be blessed with God's good reward, and sometimes I warn you of God's wrath. O! People, you must know that all will finally return to Him. As he wishes, you will be directed; otherwise, you will be stricken by his wrath inevitably. Finding it expedient, He gives you time to sin more and have more torment and adversity.
Prophets are appointed by God with the mission of guiding people towards theism. Their tolerance is a gift of God which equips them in the face of hardship and enables them to carry out the mission to which they are assigned. They are also divinely endowed with optimism and hope that they can acquaint people with reality. There remains no room for heathens who seek excuses because they have been given the last words.
Noah was a great prophet who lived a very long life, spending most of his time among those who had gone astray. He underwent persecution of the people in hope that he might guide them towards the One God. He tried to make them believe in Him and accept His faith. But as time went on, they became more and more obstinate, drawing further from the truth day by day. Finally, Noah became desperate, giving up hope for his people's salvation. Then he sought refuge in God's threshold, reporting their stubbornness to him, complaining of their hostility. He begged for God's Voice which informed him that he would not gain more disciples than the few who already believed in his creed.
Do not ever worry or be disappointed about what these ignorant people do, The divine Voice added.
Being aware of the fact that those malicious people would remain misled and stubborn against all logical proofs and reasons, Noah got tired and lost his temper. He then said :
O! My Lord, please leave not a soul of these heathens alive upon the earth. If you shows them mercy, they will mislead your other servants, and they will breed evil, pagan offspring.
The Lord accepted Noah's request and later commanded him to build an ark but not say anything more about the oppressors to Him. They were destined to be drowned in the midst of the roaring waves risen by a tempest sea because of their disobedience and ingratitude toward God. In a place quite far from town, Noah gathered the necessary implements for making a ship. While busy manufacturing the vessel, he did not escape the ridicule of the people. One said :
O! Noah, you were a prophet yesterday, while you are a carpenter today!? Perhaps you got sick and tired of the prophet hood and for that reason you have chosen carpentry as a profession.
Why don't you build your ship in the river bank or the sea coast? Maybe you intend to have it driven by oxen to the sea so that you may sail it or fly it in the sky!
Each of them made mocking statements, injuring Noah's heart, but Noah paid no attention to what they said. Sometimes he told them: If you make fun of us today, there will come a day when we do the same to you, and you will soon find out who will be stricken by everlasting adversity.
Noah was consistent in his work, joining large and small pieces of the ship together. He then made the ship fast and it was completed.
Waiting for God's order, Noah was inspired to prepare to load the vessel with his believers and pairs of male and female animals of various species as soon as he saw signs of God's wrath. He was awaiting the next commandment when suddenly it started to rain. In addition to the downpour, water sprang from the earth covering the entire area, and all the high places and hills were soon hidden under the flowing floods. Rushing towards the ark, Noah took with him the men, animals and plants which God had commanded to be embarked. As soon as all were installed on board, the vessel began its voyage with God's will.
A strong wind blew, the raging waves rolled on and on looking like moving hills. Floods and tempests were severe. The roaring waves swallowed the heathens who struggled for their lives. However, they were overwhelmed by death, being drawn into the very depths of the cold waters where their books of life ended.
Sitting somewhere on deck, Noah suddenly saw his son, Kanan, terribly entangled by the waves of the stormy ocean, struggling to rescue himself from that horrible scene. Being overcome by paternal affection, Noah shouted :
My son, believe in the Great God. Abandon blasphemy and ignorance until God shows His mercy upon your sins and saves you from death. Embark with us. Forget your pagan ways.
The words uttered by the kind father had no influence upon the stone-hearted son who thought that he could save himself from God's wrath by human strength. Then, answering his father, he said : I do not need your ship. I will not embark upon your vessel. I will take shelter somewhere in the mountains and be safe from drowning.
Overcome by grief, Noah said : O! Son, there is no way now but submission to God's commandments for one to receive His blessings.
A high wave rose at that moment, separating the father and the son. Noah was sad and took refuge in God, saying :
O! God, my son is my kin, and thy pledge was to save and pardon my family and me who believed in thee. Thy promise is just and true whilst thou art the most impartial judge.
Noah was inspired by God's revelation to adopt only the believers as his relatives, those who had previously accepted his Prophethood as well as his summoning. I have promised to deliver the believers and protect their lives continued God's Voice. He who does not admit openly that you are a prophet, and reckons the words of your Lord to be false, isn't a relative of yours; though he might be your son. This son of yours would perish in the ocean of death, tormented by God's wrath on account of his persistence in blasphemy and ingratitude. O! Noah, beware of requesting what you do not know about and telling Me of affairs whose reality is unknown to you. I advise you not to be of ignorant people.
Noah felt he was approaching danger for the sake of the love he had for his son. His paternal instinct and affection had concealed the truth from him while he should have thanked God for the rescue of himself and his companions along with the perdition of the heathens. Asking God's forgiveness, he repented of the sin and the mistake he had made. He again took refuge in God, begging his pardon and protection, so that he might not be considered a sinner. A huge wave swallowed Kanan, drowning him in the very depth of those cold waters.
As soon as the lives of the oppressors had been extinguished by God's wrath, the rain stopped and the floods were gradually absorbed by the earth. Finally, Noah's Ark anchored on Mount Arafat. He was ordered to land, attended by his companions in order to start a happy new life under the auspices of God's blessings.