The patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) ‘alayhis salaam, came down to the valley of Makkah surrounded by mountains, naked rocks and bare and rugged crags. Nothing to sustain life, neither water nor verdure, nor food grains, was to be found there. He had with him his wife Hajar (Hagar) and their son Isma’il (Ishmael) ‘alaihimus salaam. Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) had wandered through the deserts of Arabia in order to move away from the wide-spread heathen cult of idol-worship and to set up a centre for paying homage to the One and Only God where he could invite others to bow down before the Lord of the world. He wanted to lay the foundation of a lighthouse of guidance, a sanctuary of peace which should become the radiating centre of true monotheism, faith and righteousness!(83)
God blessed the sincerity of Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) and the dry valley of this wild country. Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) had left his wife and his infant son in this inhospitable territory. Here, in the midst of rugged hills, the Master of all the worlds manifested His grace by causing water to issue forth from the earth which is called the well of Zamzam to this day. When Isma’il (‘alayhis salaam) was a few years old, Ibrahim (Peace Be Upon Him) went to visit his family in Makkah. Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) now made up his mind to sacrifice Isma’il for the sake of God, for the Lord had commanded him in a dream: ‘Offer up thy son Isma’il’. Obedient to the Lord as he was, Isma’il at once agreed to have his throat cut by his father. But, God saved Isma’il (‘alayhis salaam), and instituted(84) the ‘day of great sacrifice’, in order to commemorate the event for all times, since, he was destined to help Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) in his mission and become the progenitor of the last prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as well as of the nation charged to disseminate the message of God and to struggle for it to the end of time.
Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) came back to Makkah again(85) and assisted by his son Isma’il, built the House of God. While the father and the son occupied themselves in the work, they also beseeched God to confer His grace; cause them to live as well as die in Islam; and help their progeny to keep a watch over their patrimony of monotheism, not only by protecting their mission against every risk or peril but also by becoming its standard-bearers and preachers, braving every danger and sacrificing everything for its sake until their call reached the farthest corner of the world. They also supplicated God to raise up a prophet, amongst their offsprings, who should renovate and revive the summons of Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) and bring to completion the task initiated by him.
“And when Ibrahim and Ismael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed); Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower.
“Our Lord ! and make us submissive unto Thee and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! Thou,’ only Thou, art the Relenting, the Merciful.
“Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, the Wise.” [Qur’an 2:127-29]
The prayer sent up by Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) included the request that the House he was constructing might become a sanctuary of peace and God might keep his progeny away from idol worship. Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) held nothing more in abomination than idolatrousness, nor deemed anything more fraught with danger for his progeny, for he knew the fate of earlier idolatrous nations. He was aware how the great prophets of God (Peace Be Upon Him) had earlier struggled and fought this evil throughout their lives, but in no long time after their departure from the world their people were again misled into fetishism by devil’s advocates disguised as promoters of faith.
Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) had implored the Lord to bless his descendants with his own spirit of struggle against the evil of pantheism and iconolatry. He wanted his heirs to carry into their thoughts how he had to strive all his life for the sake of Truth and Faith; how he had to bid farewell to his hearth and home; realise why he had incurred the wrath of his idolatrous father; and appreciate the wisdom behind his making a selection of that valley, unbelievably bare with no scrap of soil, sheer from top to bottom and jagged and sharp for their habitation. He wanted them to understand why he had preferred that wilderness, holding no prospects of progress and civilisation, over verdant lands and flourishing towns and centres of trade, arts and commerce where one could easily meet one’s wishes.
Ibrahim (‘alayhis salaam) had invoked the blessings of God on his sons so that they might be esteemed and adored by all the nations of the world; that the people of every nation and country might become attached to his children; that they should come from every nook and corner of the world to pay homage to his posterity and thus become a means of satisfying their needs in that barren country.
“And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! Make safe this territory, and preserve me and my sons from serving idols.
“My Lord! Lo! They have led many of mankind astray. But whoso followeth me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeyeth me still Thou art Forgiving, Merciful.
“Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near unto Thy holy House, our Lord ! that they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they may yearn toward them, and provide Thou them with fruits in order that they may be thankful.” [Qur’an 14:35-37]
 See the Chapters “The Cow” and “Abraham” of the Qur’an.
 See the Chapter “Those who set the Ranks” of the Qur’an.
 Jewish legends tell how Abraham went secretly visit Ishamel in the wilderness (cf. D. Sideersky, Les Origines des legendes usulans dans le Corane et dans les vies des prophet, Paris, Geuthner, 1933, pp. 51-53.