|One day, Abraham woke up and asked his wife Hajar to get her son and
prepare for a long journey. In a few days, Abraham started out with his
wife Hajar and their son Ishmael. The child was still nursing and not yet
Abraham walked through cultivated land, desert, and mountains until he
reached the desert of the Arabian Peninsula and came to an uncultivated
valley having no fruit, no trees, no food, no water. The valley had no
sign of life. After Abraham had helped his wife and child to dismount, he
left them with a small amount of food and water which was hardly enough
for two days. He turned around and walked away. His wife hurried after him
asking: "Where are you going, Abraham, leaving us in this barren
Abraham did not answer her, but continued walking. She repeated what
she had said, but he remained silent. Finally, she understood that he was
not acting on his own initiative. She realised that Allah had commanded
him to do this. She asked him: "Did Allah command you to do so?" He
replied: "Yes." Then his great wife said: "We are not going to be lost,
since Allah, Who has commanded you, is with us."
Abraham invoked Almighty Allah thus: " "O our Lord! I have made some of
my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred
House (the Ka'ba at Mecca); in order, O our Lord, that they may offer
prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among men with
love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may
give thanks. O our Lord! Certainly, You know what we conceal and what we
reveal. Nothing on the earth or in the heaven is hidden from Allah.""
Surah 14: 37-38
Ibn 'Abbas narrated: "The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of
Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah
[by dragging it]. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael, while she was
suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of
Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was
nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water so he made them sit over there
and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates and a small
water-skin containing some water and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother
followed him saying: 'O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this
valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there
anything (to enjoy)?' She repeated that to him many times, but he did not
look back at her. Then she asked him: 'Has Allah ordered you to do so?' He
said: 'Yes.' She said: 'Then He will not neglect us,' and returned while
Abraham proceeded onwards. On reaching the Thaniya where they could not
see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying
the following prayers: ""O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring
dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Ka'ba at
Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly. So
fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide
them with fruits, so that they may give thanks."" Surah 14: 37.38
Ibn 'Abbas's narration continued: "Ishmael's mother went on
suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had). When the water in
the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also
became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in
agony. She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found
that the mountain of As-Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land.
She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might
see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from
As-Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in
the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the
valley and reached the mountain of Al-Marwa. There she stood and started
looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She
repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "This is the source of the tradition
of the Sa'y the going of people between them (i.e. As-Safa and Al-Marwa).
When she reached Al-Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she
asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice
again and said: 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your
voice; have you got something to help me?' And behold! She saw an angel at
the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing) till
water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin
around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin
with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had
scooped some of it."
The Prophet (PBUH) added: "May Allah bestow mercy on Ishmael's mother!
Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she
not scooped from that water to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have
been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth."
The Prophet (PBUH) continued: "Then she drank (water) and suckled her
child. The angel said to her: 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for
this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father,
and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Ka'ba) at that time
was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they
flowed to its right and left.
"She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a
family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum
people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower
part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around
water and not leaving it. They said: 'This bird must be flying around
water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent
one or two messengers who discovered the source of water and returned to
inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water). Ishmael's
mother was sitting near the water. They asked her: 'Do you allow us to
stay with you?' She replied: 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess
the water.' They agreed to that. Ishmael's mother was pleased with the
whole situation, as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people.
So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families, who
came and settled with them so that some families became permanent
residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learned Arabic from
them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up,
and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from
The Prophet (PBUH) continued: "After Ishmael's mother had died, Abraham
came after Ishmael's marriage in order to see his family that he had left
before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael's wife
about him, she replied: 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Then he
asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied:
'We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,'
complaining to him. He said, 'When your husband returns, convey my
salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his
"When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he
asked his wife: 'Has anyone visited you?' She replied: 'Yes, an old man of
such-and-such description came and asked me about you, and I informed him,
and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living
in a hardship and poverty.' On that Ishmael said: 'Did he advise you
anything?' She replied: 'Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you
and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.' Ishmael said: 'It
was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your
family.' So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from among
them (i.e. Jurhum).
"Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah
wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to
Ishmael's wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said: 'He has gone in
search of our livelihood.' Abraham asked her: 'How are you getting on?'
asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied: 'We are
prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).' Then she
thanked Allah. Abraham said: 'What kind of food do you eat?' She said:
'Meat.' He said: 'What do you drink?' She said: Water.' He said: 'O Allah!
Bless their meat and water."
The Prophet (PBUH) added: "At that time they did not have grain, and if
they had had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it. If
somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and
disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca."
The Prophet (PBUH) continued: "Then Abraham said to Ishmael's wife:
'When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he
should keep firm the threshold of his gate.' When Ishmael came back, he
asked his wife: 'Did anyone call on you?' She replied: 'Yes, a
good-looking old man came to me,' so she praised him and added: 'He asked
about you and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told
him that we were in a good condition.' Ishmael asked her: 'Did he give you
any piece of advice?' She said: 'Yes, he told me to give his regards to
you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.' On
that Ishmael said: 'It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the
gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.'
"Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah
wished and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near
Zam-Zam, sharpening his arrows.
When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each
other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father).
Abraham said: 'O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.' Ishmael said: 'Do
what your Lord has ordered you to do.' Abraham asked: Will you help me?'
Ishmael said: 'I will help you.' Abraham said: 'Allah has ordered me to
build a house here,' pointing to a hillock higher than the land
"Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka'ba).
Ishmael brought the stones while Abraham built, and when the walls became
high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham, who stood over it
and carried on building. While Ishmael was handing him the stones, and
both of them were saying: ""O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us,
verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower."" Surah 2: 127. The
Prophet (PBUH) added: "Then both of them went on building and going round
the Ka'ba saying: ""O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, verily, You
are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower."" Sahih Al-Bikhari
Ibn 'Abbas narrated a slightly different version: "When Abraham had
differences with his wife (because of her jealousy of Hajar, Ishmael's
mother), he took Ishmael and his mother and went away. They had a
water-skin with them containing some water. Ishmael's mother used to drink
water from the water-skin so that her milk would increase for her child.
When Abraham reached Mecca, he made her sit under a tree and afterwards
Ishmael's mother followed him, and when they reached Kada', she called
him from behind: 'O Abraham! To whom are you leaving us?' He replied: '(I
am leaving you) to Allah's (care).' She said: 'I am satisfied to be with
Allah.' She returned to her place and started drinking water from the
water-skin, and her milk increased for her child.
"When the water had all been used up, she said to herself: 'I had
better go and look so that I may see somebody.' She ascended As-Safa
Mountain and looked, hoping to see somebody, but in vain. When she came
down to the valley, she ran till she reached Al-Marwa Mountain. She ran to
and from (between the two mountains) many times. Then she said to herself:
'I had better go and see the state of the child.' She went and found it in
a state of one on the point of dying. She could not endure to watch it
dying and said (to herself): 'If I go and look, I may find somebody.' She
went and ascended Al-Safa mountain and looked for a long while but could
not find anybody. Thus she completed seven rounds (of running) between
As-Safa and Al-Marwa. Again she said (to herself): 'I had better go back
and see the state of the child.' But suddenly she heard a voice, and she
said to that strange voice: 'Help us if you can offer any help.' Lo! It
was Gabriel (who had made the voice). Gabriel hit the earth with his heel
like this (Ibn 'Abbas hit the earth with his heel to illustrate it), and
so the water gushed out. Ishmael's mother was astonished and started
Abu Al-Qasim, i.e. the Prophet, (PBUH) said: "If she had left the
water, (flow naturally without her intervention), it would have been
flowing on the surface of the earth."
Ibn 'Abbas continued narrating: "Ishmael's mother started drinking from
the water, and her milk increased for her child. Afterwards some people of
the tribe of Jurhum saw some birds while passing through the bottom of the
valley and that astonished them. They said: "Birds can only be found at a
place where there is water." They sent a messenger, who searched the place
and found the water, and returned to inform them about it. Then they all
went to her and said: "O Ishmael's mother! Will you allow us to be with
you (or dwell with you)?" (And thus they stayed there.)
"Later on her boy reached the age of puberty and married a lady from
them. Then an idea occurred to Abraham, which he disclosed to his wife
(Sarah). 'I want to call on my dependents I left (at Mecca).' When he went
there he greeted (Ishmael's wife) and said: 'Where is Ishmael?' She
replied: 'He has gone out hunting.' Abraham said (to her): 'When he comes,
tell him to change the threshold of his gate.' When Ishmael came, she told
him the same, whereupon Ishmael said to her: 'You are the threshold, so go
to your family (i.e. you are divorced).'
"Again Abraham thought of visiting his dependents whom he had left (at
Mecca), and he told his wife (Sarah) of his intentions. Abraham came to
Ishmael's house and asked: 'Where is Ishmael?' Ishmael's wife replied: 'He
has gone out hunting,' and added: 'Will you stay (for some time) and have
something to eat and drink?' Abraham asked: 'What is your food and what is
your drink?' She replied: 'Our food is meat and our drink is water.' He
said: 'O Allah! Bless their meals and their drink.'
Abu Al-Qasim, i.e. Prophet, (PBUH) said: "Because of Abraham's
invocation there are blessings (in Mecca)."
Ibn 'Abbas continued: "Once more Abraham thought of visiting his family
he had left (at Mecca), so he told his wife (Sarah) of his decision. He
went and found Ishmael behind the Zam-zam well, mending his arrows. He
said: 'O Ishmael, your Lord has ordered me to build a house for Him.'
Ishmael said: 'Obey (the order of) your Lord.' Abraham said: 'Allah has
also ordered me that you should help me therein.' Ishmael said: 'Then I
will do so.' So both of them rose and Abraham started building (the Ka'ba)
while Ishmael went on handing him the stones, and both of them were
saying: ""O our Lord! Accept (this service) of us, verily, You are the
All-Hearer, the All-Knower."" Surah 2: 127. When the building became high
and the old man (i.e. Abraham) could no longer lift the stones (to such a
high position), he stood over the stone of Al-Maqam and Ishmael carried on
handing him the stones, and both of them were saying: ""O our Lord! Accept
(this service) of us, verily, You are the All-Hearer, the
Allah the Almighty told us of Abraham's affliction with his beloved
son: "And he said (after his rescue from the fire): "Verily, I am going to
my Lord. He will guide me! My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the
righteous." So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.
And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: "O my
son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in
sacrifice to Allah), so look what do you think!" He said: "O my father! Do
that which you are commanded, Insha' Allah (if Allah wills), you shall
find me of the patient."
Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah)
and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his
forehead for slaughtering); and We called out to him: "O Abraham! You have
fulfilled the dream (vision)!" Verily! Thus do We reward those who perform
good deeds totally for Allah's sake only. Verily, that indeed was a
manifest trial -and We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram);
and We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in
later times. "Salaamun (peace) be upon Abraham!" Thus indeed do We reward
the Muhsineen (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves."
Surah 37: 99-111
Time passed. One day Abraham was sitting outside his tent, thinking of
his son Ishmael and Allah's sacrifice. His heart was filled with awe and
love for Allah for His countless blessings. A big tear dropped from his
eyes and reminded him of Ishmael.
In the meantime, three angels descended to the earth: Gabriel,
Israphael, and Michael. They came in human shape and saluted Abraham.
Abraham arose and welcomed them. He took them inside his tent, thinking
they were strangers and guests. He seated them and made sure that they
were comfortable, then excused himself to go to his people.
His wife Sarah arose when he entered. She had become old and
white-haired. Abraham said to her: "We have three strangers in the house."
"Who are they?" she asked. "I do not know any of them," he answered. "What
food have we got?" Abraham asked. "Half a sheep," she replied. "Half a
sheep! Slaughter a fat calf for them; they are strangers and guests," he
ordered while leaving.
The servants roasted and served a calf. Abraham invited the angels to
eat, and he started eating so as to encourage them. He continued, but when
he glanced at his guests to assure they were eating, he noticed that none
of them had touched the food. He said to them: "Are you not going to eat?"
He resumed eating, but when he glanced at them again he found that they
were still not eating. Their hands did not reach out for the food. He
began to fear them.
Abraham's fears increased. The angels, however, were reading his inner
thoughts and one of them said: "Do not fear." Abraham raised his head and
replied: "Indeed, I am in fear. I have asked you to eat food, but you do
not stretch out your hands to eat. Do you intend me evil?"
One of the angels smiled and said: "We do not eat. We are Allah's
angels." One of them then turned towards his wife and conveyed the glad
tidings about Isaac (Ishaaq).
Almighty Allah revealed: "And verily, there came Our Messengers to
Abraham with glad tidings. They said: "Salaam (greetings or peace)!" He
answered: "Salaam (greetings or peace)" and he hastened to entertain them
with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards it (the
meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They
said: "Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lot." And his
wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers
did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people
of Lot). But We gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of
She said (in astonishment): "Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I
am an old woman, and here is my husband, an old man? Verily! This is a
strange thing!" They said: "Do you wonder at the Decree of Allah? The
Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, O the family (of Abraham).
Surely, He (Allah) is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious."" Surah 11: