There is a sister amongst us who has been having challenges with Islamic precepts & concepts. And ever so often, her queries compel me to read a little more.
During the first few days of Dhul Hajj, she posted a picture of verses from Genesis from a non-King James version of the Bible. In it, Ibrahim a.s. is commanded to sacrifice his son. Nowhere in the version which she posted did I see mention of that son’s name. Or whether he was firstborn or not. She interpreted it to mean the son of his ‘lawful’ wife. Various interpretations of the Bible speak to the son, Isaac, Mount Moriah, and one interpretation speaks to the firstborn son.
Surah 37 ayah 100 to 107 of Al Qur’an say:
100. Oh my Lord, grant me a righteous son.
101. So, We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.
102. 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. So look what you think!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, if Allah wills, you shall find me of the patient.”
103. Then, when they had both submitted themselves, and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead;
104. We called out to him: “O Ibrahim!”
105. “You have fulfilled the dream!” Verily, thus do We reward the doers of good.
106. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial.
107. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice
(Surah 37 speaks of Nuha.s. and Ibrahim a.s.)
All of the faiths agree that Ismail a.s. was the firstborn son of Ibrahim a.s.
Some say that Mt. Moriah is in Jerusalem, others say the Moriah is Marwah in Mecca as in one of the hills Marwah to and from which Hajra r.a., mother of Ismail a.s., ran in her search for water for her babe.
Is the identity of the son whom Ibrahim a.s. believed he was to sacrifice important? It isn’t important for the lesson of obedience to Allah s.w.t., it isn’t important for the story of Ibrahim a.s., it isn’t important for the tenet that mankind shall be tested by our Lord, it isn’t important for us to understand the love and faith which Ibrahim a.s., the Friend of Allah s.w.t, held in his heart. There are many miracles in the life of Ibrahim a.s.
On another note, Islamic tradition holds that it is Ismail a.s., the firstborn son of Ibrahim a.s., who was placed on the sacrificial altar, and whom Allah s.w.t. ransomed with a ram which had grazed for 40 years in Paradise and whose horns were kept in the Kaabah.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “When the rituals were enjoined upon Ibrahim, peace be upon him, the Shaytan appeared to him at the Mas`a and raced with him, but Ibrahim got there first. Then Jibril, upon him be peace, took him to Jamrat Al-`Aqabah and the Shaytan appeared to him, so he stoned him with seven pebbles until he disappeared. Then he appeared him at Al-Jamrah Al-Wusta and he stoned him with seven pebbles.
It was reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “A ram which had grazed in Paradise for forty years.”
Imam Ahmad recorded that Safiyyah bint Shaybah said, “A woman from Bani Sulaym, who was the midwife of most of the people in our household, told me that the Messenger of Allah sent for `Uthman bin Talhah, may Allah be pleased with him.” On one occasion she said, “I asked `Uthman, `Why did the Prophet call you’ He said, `The Messenger of Allah said to me, “I saw the horns of the ram when I entered the House (i.e., the Ka`bah), and I forgot to tell you to cover them up; cover them up, for there should not be anything in the House which could distract the worshipper.” Sufyan said, “The horns of the ram remained hanging in the House until it was burned, and they were burned too.”
Most significantly, our Beloved Rasool s.a.w.s. performed both the Hajj and the qurbani during his lifetime and prophethood.
May Allah s.w.t. guide us and grant us beneficial knowledge.