Prophet Ismail (AS) was the eldest son of the Prophet Abraham (AS). Hajar or Hagar, an Egyptian princess and one of the wives of Abraham delivered him. It is believed that Allah Commanded Abraham (Ibrahim) to leave his wife Hajar and his child son Ismail in Hejaz, Deep South in the desert of Arabia where the city of Makah exists today. The place of Makah was an uninhabited and barren piece of land those times. Abraham as a submissive and devoted worshipper of Allah obeyed and accomplished the Command of the Creator and the Maker of the Universe by taking and disposing of the child Ishmael and his wife in the deserts of Arabia. Due to scorching and sweltering heat the child Ismail felt parched and thirsty and the mother taking pity upon the innocent child roamed and ran here and there to find out any spot or source of water. She ran several times between the two hills (Al-Safa and Marwa), trying to quest for water and help. She could not find out water and however, the child Ishmael while wailing, suddenly, jolted and scuffed the soil with his heels and by the Will of Allah, a spring of fresh water gushed out. This spring runs with boundless fresh water to this day, and is treated as holy water (better known as Zum Zum) by pilgrims to Makah. The act of the running or strolling between the two hills by Hajar, the mother of Ishmael got converted into a significant and remarkable occurrence that Allah reckoned it as a compulsory component of the Hajj ritual for all times to come. Ismail grew up and could now share the responsibilities and works of his father Abraham who had been commanded to visit and find out his left family now. After re-union with his family, the father Abraham saw in a dream or vision, that he sacrificed his only son to please Allah. On seeing the same dream on three successive nights, he informed his son Ismail about it. As a devoted and submissive son, Ismail requested his father to sacrifice him to please Allah to submit before His Will and Test.
“Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what thy view is!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills, one of the steadfast!” (The Holy Quran). Finding his son submissive, Abraham or Ibrahim took his son Ismail to Mina, laid him on the ground, and tied his arms and legs with a cord. As he placed his knife on the throat of his son, the Archangel Jibril or Gabriel (AS) appeared and announced that the trial of their ultimate submission to Allah was accepted. Just then, by the Grace of Allah, a heavenly, healthy and beautiful ram appeared there to be sacrificed in place of Ismail. Abraham was given the happy tiding that Allah was pleased with them, and their position would be elevated. This act of the supreme sacrifice of Abraham and his son Ismail became an essential part of the Hajj for all times, and is celebrated in the form of Eid al-Adha.
(The author is incumbent Director Academics at J&K Board of School Education. Views are his own)