Hazrat Ibrahim was born into a family who used to make idols, sell them in the marketplaces and worship them. The country was full fo people who would bow down before these idols and seek the fulfillment of their wishes from them; they would worship stars, the sun and the moon, aswel as idols made of wood and stone. In this way, they had turned away from the true message that there is no God except Allah.
Hazrat Ibrahim tried to preach to his people about the truth. He said, "How is it that you make these idols using your own hands, yet you worhsip them? They are neither capable of benefitting you, nor are they capable of causing you harm."
They replied, "But this has been the tradition of our forefathers, and we have seen them worship these idols in this way."
Hazrat Ibrahim teaches a lesson
Oneday, all the villagers had gone somewhere and left Hazrat Ibrahim behind. He went into the temple, and one by one, destroyed all the idols except the biggest one. When they returned, and realized the state of their idols, they became extremely furious and said, "Who has disrespected our idols like this, it must be the handiwork of an extremely cruel person." "Who else, but the young man called Ibrahim.", intervened one of the villagers. "We should call him and show all the people what he has done."
When Hazrat Ibrahim arrived, they asked him, "O Ibrahim, is it you who destroyed all our idols"?
Hazrat Ibrahim replied, "Why don't you ask the big idol? It is the culprit. It will tell you everything if it can speak."
Hearing this, they became extremely ashamed and confused. They said to Hazrat Ibrahim, "You know that the idol cannot speak. Now, tell us the truth."
Hazrat Ibrahim said, "Do you then worship things besides Allah, that can neither benefit you nor harm you? Have you got no sense?"
Villagers plan to kill Hazrat Ibrahim
The villagers became furious at this, and they decided to throw Hazrat Ibrahim into fire as revenge. Soon a big heap of firewood was set aflame, and Hazrat Ibrahim was thrown into it.
Lo and behold, the fire became cool by the command of Allah and Hazrat Ibrahim was saved from death.
By now, Hazrat Ibrahim accepted that the people would never believe in his words, or the truth and he decided to migrate to another land, where he could spread the message of Allah.
Hazrat Ibrahim travelled to another country, and began to preach. Now Hazrat Ibrahim had become very old. In his old age, Allah blessed Hazrat Ibrahim with two sons, Hazrat Ishmael (the older son) and Hazrat Ishaq (the younger son).
Hazrat Ibrahim decided to involve his two sons in the task which he had been doing throughout all his life.
Hazrat Ibrahim's sacrifice
One test still remained for Hazrat Ibrahim; whether his love for Allah (s.w.t) came first, or his love for his sons.
It so happened that one night, Hazrat Ibrahim saw in his dream that he was slaughtering his son, Ishmael. He soon realized its implication, and called Ishmael to inform him of what he had seen. After listening to this and also realizing what Allah demanded of his father, Hazrat Ishmael replied: "My father, obey the command given by Allah. You will, God willing, find me steadfast."
So Hazrat Ibrahim got ready to execute Allah's order. The moment Hazrat Ibrahim laid down his son, Hazrat Ishmael, it was proved to all that Allah's commandment was dearer to Hazrat Ibrahim than his own son.
Before he could even carry out the task, Allah accepted his sacrifice and said, "No doubt, you have materialized your dream. There is no need to sacrifice your son."