Ibrahim/Abraham (A.S.) woke up terrified; he knew that dreams of Prophets were true and free from the temptations of Satan. However, he saw the same dream for two other nights (1), which indicated the emphasis on the necessity of this task and its importance. Abraham (A.S.), who had passed the difficult trials of Allah (SWT) several times, had to take this latest trial, obey the order of Allah (SWT), and slaughter his own son, for whom he had waited a lifetime and was a brave adult at that time, with his own hands (2)! But before anything, he had to prepare his son; thus, he addressed him as, ″O my son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see (What is your opinion?
His son, who was a copy of his devoted father, welcomed this divine order with open arms and extreme content, and replied to his father clearly, ″… O father! Do whatever you have been ordered… (4)″ and rest assured from my side because ″With the will of Allah, you will find me amongst the patients (5)″.
On one hand, Abraham (A.S.) discusses the issue of slaughtering with his 13 year old son and asks his opinion. He considers an independent personality and free will for his son. Abraham (A.S.) does not intend to deceit his son or to take him to this trial blindly; rather, he wants his son to participate in this great combat against ego with his own desire, and to taste the favor of submission and content along with his father. On the other hand, the son wants his father to remain firm in his decision. Thus, he does not say, ″Slaughter me″, but says, ″Do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones″. Moreover, he addresses his father as ″O Father!″ to state that this issue has no effect on the love between a father and his son; yet, the order of Allah (SWT) is superior to all.
In this way, both the father and the son passed the first stage of this great trial with complete success.
This trial for Abraham (A.S.) was of the greatest trials throughout the history. The purpose of this trial was to clear his heart from love for things other than Allah (SWT) and to fill it with love for Allah (SWT). Thus, according to some Hadiths, Satan did his best to prevent Abraham (A.S.) from accomplishing this trial successfully. First, he went to Hagar, Isma’il’s/Ishmael’s mother, and said to her, ″Do you know what is in Abraham’s mind? He wants to slaughter his son today! ″Hagar replied, ″Go! Stop saying vain words! He is too kind to kill his own son. In fact, is there any father in the world who could slaughter his son with his own hands?″
Satan continued his temptations by saying, ″He claims that Allah has ordered him so…″Hagar replied, ″If Allah has ordered him, then he has to obey and there is no choice other than submission and content!!″
Then, Satan went to ″the son″ and tried to deceit him, but he was not successful as he found Ishmael in complete submission and content.
Finally, he went to ″the father″ and said to him, ″O Abraham! The dream you saw was satanic! Do not obey Satan!″ Abraham(A.S.), who had recognized Satan through the light of faith and prophethood, screamed, ″Go away you enemy of Allah! (6)″
Eventually, the delicate moments arrived; the order of Allah (SWT) had to be performed… Having observed the submission of his son, Abraham (A.S.) hugged Ishmael and kissed his cheeks, and they both started crying; a crying which revealed emotions and eager to meet Allah (SWT).
The Holy Quran mentions this in a short meaningful statement, ″Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he (Abraham (A.S.)) had laid his forehead on earth; …″(7)
Nevertheless, Abraham (A.S.) threw his son down upon his forehead, took out a knife, and put it on his neck rapidly and powerfully, while his soul was filled with enthusiasm, and it was only his love for Allah (SWT) that made him act decisively. However, the knife had no effect on the fine neck of his son…
Abraham (A.S.) was shocked; he moved the knife once again, but it did not work. Although Abraham (A.S.) forced the knife to cut, Allah (SWT) ordered it not to do so, and the knife obeyed only Allah (SWT)…
The Holy Quran wraps up this story by mentioning a short and meaningful statement, ″And We called out to him saying: O Abraham! You have indeed shown the truth of the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good (8)″.
Not only do we assist them to pass the trial successfully, but also keep their dear son alive. Of course, those who are solely submitted to our orders and have accomplished beneficence deserve nothing but such a reward.
And then it continues by saying, ″Most surely this is a manifest trial (9)″.
It is narrated in some Hadiths that at this point, Gabriel yelled (out of admiration), ″Allah is the Greatest″, ″Allah is the Greatest″.
And Ishmael called, ″There is no God but Allah, and Allah is the Greatest.″
Also, Abraham (A.S.) said, ″Allah is the Greatest, and praise is for Allah (10)″, and these are all similar to what we say in the day of Eid al-Adha.
However, to accomplish the plan for Abraham (A.S.), make him give a sacrifice to Allah (SWT), and fulfill his wish, Allah (SWT) sent him a huge sheep to sacrifice it instead of his son and to leave this tradition in the ceremony oh ″Hajj″ in the land of ″Mina″ for the future generations, as the Holy Quran states, ″And We ransomed him with a Feat sacrifice (11)″.
We have to believe that the temptations of Satan in the great trials are not from one aspect; they are made from various aspects with different manifestations. Nonetheless, it is our duty to recognize Satan in all its appearances, as Abraham (A.S.) did, and to avoid him and block him from any way he approaches us whatsoever, and to stone him…
(Selection taken from ″Tafsir Nemoonah″, by Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi)
1. It is said that he saw this dream at the night of ″Tarwiah″ (8th night of Dhi al-Hijjah) for the first time, and it repeated on the nights of ″Arafah″ and ″Eid al-Adha″ (9th and 10th Dhi al-Hijjah); thus, he was completely certain that it was the order of Allah (SWT).
2. The Holy Quran, (37:102)
3. The order given to Abraham (A.S.) was just a trial. As we know, such orders are not meant to target the act itself; rather, it is just meant to declare the willingness of the person to obey the orders of Allah (SWT). And this is applicable to the cases where the person is not aware of the hidden purposes behind the trial.
Therefore, if we read that after this incident, Allah (SWT) says to Abraham (A.S.), ″You made your dream come true″, it is because he did whatever he could in regards to slaughtering his beloved son, proved his spiritual willingness and readiness, and passed this trial with success.
4. The Holy Quran, (37:102)
5. The Holy Quran, (37:102)
6. Tafsir Ab al-Futuh al-Raazi, the interpretation of Chapter 37
7. The Holy Quran, (37:103)
8. The Holy Quran, (37:104 and 105)
9. The Holy Quran, (37:106)
10. Tafsir Qurtubi and Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan
11. The Holy Quran, (37, 107)