This week’s Reflections on Faith reveals the story behind Islam’s traditional remembrance of Abraham’s submission to God.
Tracy Islamic Center will celebrate the Festival of Sacrifice on Wednesday to remember Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Ishmael.
In memory of Abraham, Muslims around the world will sacrifice a lamb or cow and then distribute the meat among poor friends and relatives. For those who don’t have a ranch, the modern way is to have a butcher shop prepare the meat.
According to Islamic tradition, when Ishmael (peace be upon him) was little less than 2 years of age and still nursing, Abraham received a revelation from God. He was asked to place Hagar and Ishmael in a valley in Arabia where they might prosper and grow into a great nation.
After Abraham left his family in the valley in Arabia, he stopped and faced the sacred valley where he had left Hagar and Ishmael. He prayed for them, “O my Lord, I have left my family in the desolate desert so that they may establish prayer and worship. My Lord, make a flock of people come to them and love them. Provide them with sustenance and fruits so they may prosper there and be thankful to you.”
The fulfillment of this prayer is obvious. God created the Well of Zam Zam for Hagar and Ishmael, a place that still exists. A noble Arab tribe settled with Hagar and Ishmael because of the availability of water. The settlement of Mecca is that place.
It should be noted that the first part of Abraham’s prayer is about worship of one true God, and the second is worldly sustenance. That is a theme throughout the Islamic belief system.