When Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) was born, his father Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was 86 years old. The new-born son was the apple of his father's eye and when Saarrah (AS) watched the two of them, she was sad that she could not have a child. After a time, she could not bear to see Haajarah and her son and she asked Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) to take them away to another place. On the command of Allah, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) brought Haajarah (AS) and Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) to Makkah. In this desert he left his wife and baby in the care of Allah and returned to his home in Palestine.
According to the Holy Qur'an, he prayed: “O our Lord! I have left part of my family in a valley where nothing grows, close to Your Holy House. Our Lord! This is so they can set up prayer. So make the hearts of the people kind towards them and provide them with fruits so that they may be grateful.” (Qur'an 14:37)
Although Haajarah was alone in the desert, she had learnt from her husband to trust in Allah and be patient. When she became hungry and thirsty and could no longer feed her baby, she tried to look for water, searching between the hills of Safa and Marwah, but she was unsuccessful. Finally, she returned to her baby, disappointed. Suddenly, she saw that a stream of water was flowing out from where Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) had struck the ground with his foot. She was very happy and drank her fill.
Meanwhile, the water had attracted a flock of birds. The people of the tribe of Jurham, who lived nearby, were following the birds in search of water. When they saw Haajarah (AS) and Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) alone in the desert, they invited them to come and live with their tribe.
Haajarah (AS) and Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) began to live with the tribe of Jurham. Sometimes, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) used to visit them. On one of his visits when Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) was 13 years old, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) dreamt that he was sacrificing his son. It was the 8th of ZilHajj, also known as Yawm-e-Tarwiyah (The Day of the First Dream). Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) often received Allah's commands in his dreams, but because he was being asked to actually sacrifice his son, he wondered whether it was real.
On the next day he saw the same dream and was now sure that it was a true command. Thus, the 9th of ZilHajj is known as Yawm-e-‘Arafah (The Day of Sure Knowledge).
The Holy Qur'an says: And when (Ismaa'eel) became baaligh, he (Ibraaheem) said, "O my son! I saw in a dream that I am sacrificing you. What is your view?" He (Ismaa'eel) said, "O father! Do as you have been commanded. If Allah wills, you will find me from the patient ones." (Qur'an 37:102)
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) took a rope and a knife, and led his son into the desert. On the way, Shaitaan appeared in the form of an old man, and tried to convince Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) that he was making a terrible mistake in killing his son. Three times Shaitaan came, and each time Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) made him go away by throwing seven small stones at him.
When they reached Mina, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) laid his son on the ground and took the knife. Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) saw how distressed his father was at having to kill him, so he said, "O my father! Tie my hands and legs so that I do not struggle. Put a blindfold over your eyes so that you do not have to see me die and tighten your cloak so that my mother does not see my blood splattered on your clothes. Make your knife sharp so that you can do your job quickly. That way I will feel no pain."
Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) did as his son requested, and then cut the throat of his son. But when he removed the blindfold, he was surprised to see his son standing safe besides him and that he had slaughtered a male sheep instead.
The Holy Qur'an says: And We called out to him, "O Ibraaheem, Indeed you have proved your dream true. This is how We pay back people who do good. Indeed this was a clear trial, and We ransomed him with a Great Sacrifice. And We gave (this blessing) to one from the later times." Peace be upon Ibraaheem. (Qur'an 37:104-109)
Thus Allah told Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) that He was rewarding him for his faith by saving Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS). Instead of his son, the blessing of sacrifice in the Way of Allah would be given to a person in the future. This person was none other than Imaam Husain (AS), who sacrificed himself, his family members and his friends on the plains of Karbala for the sake of Islaam.
After his son had been saved, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) left for Palestine to return to Saarrah (AS). Allah made the actions of Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and his family waajib for all Muslims. Thus, when we go for Hajj, we walk between Safa and Marwah just as Haajarah (AS) did. We also go to Mina and offer an animal for sacrifice and stone the Shaitaans.
On one of his visits, Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) was ordered by Allah to rebuild the Holy Ka'bah, which had broken down. The Holy Qur'an says: And Ibraaheem raised the foundations of the House (Holy Ka'bah) with Ismaa'eel, (praying), "O our Lord! Accept this from us. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (Qur'an 2:127)
The two of them built the Holy Ka'bah together. Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) carried the stones and Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) paved them in place. The angel Jibraeel guided them at every step and showed them where to put the Holy Black Stone (Hajr-e- Aswad). It still remains in the same place today. After the building was ready, they performed the Hajj. Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS) settled in Makkah and lived there all his life. Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is from his descendants.