When Allah the Most Exalted decided to create the ashraf-ul-makhlookat (the noblest of creation), the angels were skeptical. “He will not live peacefully,” they said. But Allah replied: “I know what you know not.” Man came into being. Although he proved his worth by answering various questions put to him, Allah chose to justify his creation later – at Mina, some five thousand years ago.
A voluminous book would be needed to describe the towering personality of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). The great Prophet (AS) lived in Iraq, and had a big herd of sheep and goats which needed more than five thousand people to look after. Allah the Most Exalted ordered him to leave everything behind and move to Arabia where nobody lived at that time. The great Prophet (AS), whom Allah had chosen to justify the very creation of humankind, obeyed.
In Arabia, Ibrahim (AS) was directed not to live with his wife and only son, Ismail (AS). He obeyed again, bearing silently the pain of separating from his family. When Ismail (AS) entered the 13th year of his life, Allah directed Ibrahim (AS), in a dream, to slaughter him. The Prophet (AS) obeyed once more.
Walking to the altar with his father, Ismail encountered Iblees, the open enemy of believers, who tried to dissuade him.
Disappointed by Ismail’s (AS) answer, Iblees then tried to prevent Ibrahim (AS) from carrying out Allah’s command. The great Prophet (AS) drove Iblees away by throwing stones. Allah liked this so much that throwing pebbles on Satan at Mina was made one of the most important acts during Hajj.
Anyway, Ismail (AS) walked smilingly to the altar. The knife did not work. Ismail (AS) survived. A sheep was slaughtered instead, and Muslims were directed to commemorate the event every year.
Allah the most Exalted knew very well that Ibrahim (AS) was obedient. Allah also knew that the great Prophet (AS) would take his son to the altar. Why then was he put to test?
Allah the Almighty actually wants believers to display their love for Him. He also wanted to convey in clear terms that His wish was supreme. A believer lives for Allah the Almighty and dies for Him. He prays because Allah directs him to pray, he offers sacrifice to seek His pleasure, he performs Hajj to invoke His blessings, not to be called and recognised as a Haji.
The event, however, needs to be perceived and understood in the right perspective. Merely killing an animal cannot make one a true believer. It is the spirit behind the act that can ensure one’s salvation. It is a declaration on part of the believer that he shall remain obedient, come what may. After killing the animal, how many people go to the mosque to offer obligatory prayers? Disobedience starts immediately after commemorating the sunnah of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS).
A believer has to think, believe and act like Ibrahim (AS).