Sacrifice of Abraham
It was to be tested whether or not the only child begot in the old age after being completely despaired of it, could be sacrificed by Ibrahim (peace be on him) for the sake of the Lord of the worlds.
After leaving his home Prophet Ibrahim (peace be on him) wandered in Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Arab countries. God alone knows, what sufferings he went through in this life of a wayfarer. While quitting his home he had not taken any money and goods with him nor was he wandering in search of livelihood. In fact, his only anxiety day and night was to take the people out of the servitude of others and make them servants of only one God. When a man of such ideas could not be tolerated by his own father and his community, how could anyone else put up with him? Where could he be welcomed? Everywhere was the sway of the same Mahants of temples and of kings claiming godhood, and everywhere existed those ignorant masses who were caught up in the snare of false gods. Naturally, in the midst of such folks, how could that person live peacefully who was not only himself not ready to accept the godhood of anybody except that of God but was also in the habit of going about preaching to the people but none except Allah is their Master and Lord, and that, therefore, they should subvert the authority of all spurious masters and demi-gods and become a servant of only that One Being. This was the reason why Prophet Ibrahim (peace be on him) did not stay peacefully at one place. For years he wandered as a nomad, sometimes in the inhabited parts of Kana’an, sometimes in Egypt and at other times in the sandy tracts of Arabia. His whole adulthood passed off in this manner and his black hair turned grey.
Children and their training
During the last period of his life when he was short of four years in completing ninety years and had despaired of an off-spring, Allah gave him children. But this servant of Allah now did not consider that having himself wrecked his home he should at least make his children fit to earn their living and should arrange for them some source of livelihood. No. The only anxiety worth this aged Muslim was that the missionary work, for which he had spent his whole life, must be carried on by someone else after his death. It was for this purpose that he had prayed to Allah to grant him children. And when Allah acceded to his request, he yearned to train his children to carry out his mission. The life of this perfect man was the life of a true and genuine Muslim. When in early adulthood, soon after attaining discretion, he recognized God and found Him out, Allah told him: “Aslim” (i.e. become a Muslim, entrust yourself to Me, be solely Mine), and he, in reply gave a pledge:
“I have accepted Islam. I belong to the Lord of the worlds. I have wholly entrusted myself t Him.” [2:131]
This truthful person fully abided by this pledge throughout his life. He gave up, for the sake of the Lord of the worlds, his antique ancestral religion together with its beliefs and rituals and renounced all the benefits accruing therefrom. He braved the danger of fire, bore the brunt of migration, wandered from country to country, spent every moment of his life in obedience to the Lord of the worlds and in propagating His Deen and when blessed with a child in old age he liked him also to follow this very Deen and this very type of work.
The greatest of trials
But after all these tribulations, there was one trial left without which it could not be determined that the love of this gentleman for the Lord of the worlds surpasses love of all the things around him. It was to be tested whether or not the only child begot in the old age after being completely despaired of it, could be sacrificed by him for the sake of the Lord of the worlds. So this trial also was gone through. And when on seeing a sign he got prepared to slaughter his son with his own hands, the divine decision was given: “Yes, now you have fully vindicated your claim fo being a completed true Muslim. Now you are competent to be made Imam fo the whole world.” This incident has been described in the Qur’an thus:
Elevation to the Imamat of the world
And when Ibrahim was tried by his Lord with commands and he fullfilled them, [Allah] said, “Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people.” [Ibrahim] said, “And of my descendants?” [Allah] said. “My convenant does not include the wrongdoers” [2:124]
In this manner leadership entrusted to Prophet Ibrahim (peace be on him), and he became a pioneer of the universal Islamic movement. Now in order to give an impetus to this movement he felt the need of such men who would settle down in different areas and operated from there as his deputies or representatives. In this mission three persons proved pillars of strength to him. One was his nephew Lut, the second his eldest son Isma’il (who, on learning that the Lord of the worlds wants the sacrifice of his life, himself cheerfully placed his neck under the knife), and the third, his youger son, Ishaaq (peace be on them).
Lut (peace be on him) sent to Transjordan
Ibrahim (peace be on him) settled his nephew in Sodom also called Transjordan. In this region used to live the most morally depraved community. Prophet’s Ibrahim’s (peace be on him) objective was to reform these profane people and also to influence the farflung area around, because the commercial teams travelling between Iran, Iraq and Egypt used to pass through this region, and from this place religious preaching could be conducted in both directions.
Ishaaq (peace be on him) settled in Palestine
The younger son, Ishaaq (peace be on him) settled in Kana’an, now called Palestine. This region is situated between Syria and Egypt and, being on the coast of the sea, other countries could also be influenced from there. From this very region the Islamic movement reached Egypt through Ishaaq’s (peace be on him) son, Yaqoob (peace be on him), and his grandson Yusuf (peace on him).
Isma’il (peace be on him) stayed in Makkah
The elder son, Isma’il was kept in the Hijza at Makkah, and Ibrahim (peace be on him) stayed with him for a long time to spread the teaching if Islam in all parts of Arabia.