Building the Ka`bah

The Qur'an reveals that Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) built the Ka`bah. Located in Makkah, the Ka`bah was the first structure built solely to worship God, for:

The first House established for humanity was that at Bakka*, a place of blessing and a guidance for all beings. In it are Clear Signs-the place where Abraham stood [to pray]. All who enter it are safe. Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by all humanity-those who can find a way to do it. But if anyone does not believe, God is Rich Beyond Need of any being. (Qur'an, 3:96-97)

* Makkah

These two prophets built the Ka`bah, a task that God had entrusted to Prophet Abraham (pbuh), as the following verses reveal:

And We located the position of the House for Abraham: "Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My House for those who circle it and for those who stand and bow and prostrate. Announce the Pilgrimage to humanity. They will come to you on foot and on every sort of lean animal, coming by every distant road so that they can be present at what will profit them, and invoke God's name on specific days over livestock He has provided for them. Eat of them and feed those who are poor and in need." (Qur'an, 22:26-28)

God told Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to cleanse the Ka`bah. This may represent a physical cleaning or may have a spiritual meaning. Thus, God commanded that the Ka`bah be cleansed both physically and spiritually (from pagan practices). In another verse, God reveals the tasks He assigned to these two prophets:

And when Abraham built the foundations of the House with Ishmael: "Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (Qur'an, 2:127)

The Maqam Ibrahim (Station of Abraham) houses the stone that Prophet Abraham (pbuh) used as a walkway while building the Ka`bah.

As they engaged in building the Ka`bah and thereby fulfilling their religious duty, these two prophets constantly prayed to our Lord. Following this pleasing practice, we can pray and seek God's help in any matter, and praise and call on His name. This is because God knows what is hidden in peoples' hearts, hears them at all times, and sees and knows what they do. Believers know that He will respond to their prayers, and so regard prayer as a means of drawing closer to Him. People sometimes think that prayer can only be performed at certain times or places, and therefore seek to mold it into a specific form. Yet the prophets' prayers show that believers can turn to God at any time (e.g., when working, going to bed, or sitting down). As there is no rule concerning this, believers may turn to God at all moments, recall Him in their hearts at all times, and praise our Lord with His most beautiful names.

At the end of their prayers, Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) praised God. After stating what they sought from Him, the two prophets praised Him, expressing the fact that He knows and hears everything. This demonstrates that it is acceptable to recall His names during prayer and to use them when praying to Him. Indeed, in one verse God reveals that:

To God belong the Most Beautiful Names, so call on Him by them and abandon those who desecrate His Names. They will be repaid for what they did. (Qur'an, 7:180)

Believers should express the fact, as did the prophets, of God's greatness, that He sees and hears everything, controls everything, and is the Lord of power and wisdom. Many verses concerning the prophets' prayers shed light on how believers should actually pray.

A sacred stone inside the Mosque of Umar, which Muslims believe was used by Prophet Abraham (pbuh) when the Ka`bah was being built.

Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) Test

We ransomed him (Abraham) with a mighty sacrifice.
(Qur'an, 37:107)

One of the many tests that Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had to face was that of sacrificing Prophet Ishmael (pbuh). As the Qur'an relates:

And We gave him [Abraham] the good news of a forbearing boy. When he [Ishmael] was of an age to work with him, he [Abraham] said: "My son, I saw in a dream that I must sacrifice you. What do you think about this?" He said: "Do as you are ordered, father. God willing, you will find me patient." Then when they had both submitted and he had lain him face down on the ground, We called out to him: "Abraham! You have discharged your vision." That is how We recompense good-doers. This was indeed a most manifest trial. We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice. (Qur'an, 37:101-07)

In the above verses, God relates how He tested Prophet Abraham (pbuh). Islamic scholars generally interpret these verses in the same way. For example, in his commentary on the Qur'an, Hamdi Yazir of Elmali states that Prophet Abraham (pbuh) saw a revelation in his dream and was told to fulfill it. He explains the relevant verses in the following terms:

According to the Old Testament, Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his wife were interred in the Machpelah cave in al-Khalil (Hebron).

".He did not seek to do this by force. Rather, he indicated that by asking his son's views on how to bring this about, thus seeking his obedience and submission and enabling him to acquire merit in God's sight. One can only imagine what a great feeling of love must beat in a father's heart when he says: 'O, my dear son,' and how his great passion for duty and love for God overcame even his love for his son. That gentle-hearted son, who understood that this was God's command and that God was with those who were patient, replied: 'O, my dear father, do whatever you are commanded. By God's will, you shall find me patient."4

In his commentary, Omer Nasuhi Bilmen offers the following account:

"Prophet Abraham and his son obeyed and submitted to God's command, and Prophet Abraham (laid his [son's] head to one side) and accepted the task of cutting his throat. Understanding that his dream was a divine command, he was eager to discharge his duty, and showed great fortitude and obedience to God's command. Then God blessed him, ordering him to sacrifice an animal instead of his son, and thereby saved Prophet Abraham from a self-sacrifice."5

Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) and Prophet Ishmael's (pbuh) sincere obedience, submission, and devotion to God can be seen clearly from these verses and commentaries. Their superior behavior is an excellent example and a matchless guide for all believers. Therefore, all believers must follow this path and become known for their scrupulous implementation of God's commands, and for showing strong resolution when facing troubles or difficulties and maintaining their patient and humble natures. In the following verses, God further reveals that:

And left the later people saying of him: "Peace be upon Abraham." That is how We recompense good-doers. He truly was one of Our believing servants. (Qur'an, 37:108-11)


4-Elmalili Muhammed Hamdi Yazir, Tafsir of Holy Qur'an,
5- Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, Kuran-i Kerim'in Turkce Meali Alisi ve Tefsiri (Tafsir of Holy Qur'an), vol. 9, 2994.


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