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Isma'il ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and his Father

In the last issue of Iqraa we told the story of Ismail's infancy and how he came to grow up amongst the Arab tribe of Jurhum. When he had grown to manhood, he married one of the women of Jurhum.

After Ismail's mother had died, Ibrahim came to see his family whom he had left near Zam-zam. Ismail was not at home when Ibrahim arrived, but his wife was. She did not know who Ibrahim was. When Ibrahim asked her about how they were managing, she started complaining about how difficult life was and how poor they were. Ibrahim told her to give her husband greetings from him and to tell him to change the threshold of the gate to his house.

When Ismail returned, he sensed that something unusual had happened and he asked his wife if anyone had been there. Then she told him what had happened and what Ibrahim had said to her. Ismail told her that the stranger had been his father, and that he had ordered Ismail to divorce her.

How did Ismail know what Ibrahim was talking about? A threshold is the sill of a door or gate, the part that one steps on when one enters a house. If the threshold is rotten, the house is not strong. Ismail's wife was the rotten threshold because of her whining, complaining ways. Had she remained as Ismail's wife, his entire household would have been weakened. The wife, as mother of a man's children, is the foundation of his family for many generations to come, and she must be made of good material in order to fulfill her purpose well.

Sometime after Ismail had taken another wife, his father Ibrahim again came visiting and again found no one but the wife at home. However, this time when he asked her how they were doing, she cheerfully answered that they were prospering and she gave thanks to Allah for all their blessings. She offered Ibrahim meat and water, and he asked for Allah's blessing on all their meat and water. When he left, he told her to give his regards to her husband and to tell him to keep the threshold of his gate.

When Ismail returned home he asked if anyone had visited. She told him all about the nice old man and the piece of advice he had given in his message to Ismail . From this message Ismail knew that his father approved of the new wife and had advised Ismail to keep her with him.

Again some time had passed when Ibrahim wished to see his son. He found Ismail sharpening his arrows at the Zam-zam well, and they exchanged a warm father-son greeting. This time Allah had given Ibrahim an order and Ibrahim needed Ismail's help to fulfill it. Ismail agreed immediately to help, before he even knew what was required of him. Allah had ordered Ibrahim to build a house on the hillock where Ismail had been left as a baby with his mother, a place which was higher than the land surrounding it. And so it was that Ibrahim and Ismail built the Ka'ba. Ismail brought the stones and Ibrahim put them in place. When the walls became too high, Ibrahim stood on a rock and Ismail handed the stones up to him. As they worked they kept repeating: "Our Lord! Accept this service from us, for Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (al-Qur'an 2:127). That is how the Ka'ba came to be built.

You can read about Ismail and his father in Sahih al-Bukhari IV: 583-584 and in the Qur'an 2:125-129.


Published: February 1992

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756