Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for all Muslims who are financially capable. According to Ayah 27 of Surah al-Haj, Hz Ibrahim (AS) was given the details about Hajj:- “And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path.”
Many of the actions performed during Hajj commemorate the sacrifices made by Prophet Ibrahim (AS), the beloved prophet of Allah.
Hz Ibrahim (AS) and the Concept of Sacrifice in Islam
The Water of Zam Zam
Allah blessed Hz Ibrahim (AS) and his wife with a child. They named him Ismail (AS). Shortly, Hz Ibrahim (AS) took his family, baby Ismail and his mother, and moved towards Mecca. As per Allah’s Command, he left them there in the desert with little food and water. When Ismail (AS) got thirsty, his mother climbed towards Mt as-Safa to look for water. Then, she then ran towards the other hill, Mt al-Marwah. She went back and forth between the hills multiple times but found no water.
As a reward of her patience, Allah made a spring of water gush out of the ground next to where she left baby Ismail (AS) crying. This spring of water is today known as Zam Zam.
Years later, Hz Ibrahim (AS) came back and built the house of Allah, Ka’abah, with the help of his son. Hz Ibrahim (AS) proved himself true in all his tests of faith, submission, selflessness and love for Allah. He sacrificed everything for the sake of Allah and submitted truly to the Will of Allah. In Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 124, Allah says:
And (remember) when his Lord tried Abraham with (His) Commands, and he fulfilled them, He said: Lo! I have appointed you a leader for humankind.
The Concept of Sacrifice
One night while sleeping, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) had a dream that he was sacrificing his son. He told his son Ismail (AS) about his dream. Knowing that dreams of prophets are Allah’s Command, Hz Ismail (AS) urged his father to do the needful and obey the Word of Allah. Such obedience and willingness to sacrifice oneself for Allah as well as unbreakable faith in Allah is truly matchless! This incident is described in the Quran, Surah as-Saffat, Ayahs 102-03:
And when he reached with him (the age of) exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I (must) sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”
Prior to attempting the sacrifice, Hz Ibrahim (AS) who blindfolded himself lest his parental love should come in the way. He then held the knife to his son’s throat and just as he was about to cut the throat of his son, Allah sent His Revelation (as mentioned in Quran 37:103-09):
And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead,
We called to him, “O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, And We left for him (favorable mention) among later generations: “Peace upon Abraham.”
Allah accepted the sacrifice and replaced Hz Ismail (AS) with a sheep. As such, Hz Ibrahim (AS) slaughtered the sheep instead of his own son.
To commemorate this sacrifice, every year Muslims sacrifice lambs, goats, rams or other such animals on Eid al-Adha. The meat is then given to the poor. It is also notable that this sacrifice of animals profits us only with our intentions. Rather, it is our righteousness and piety that benefits us. This gesture symbolizes our willingness to sacrifice. As in Surah al-Haj Ayah 37, Allah says:
Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you.