He made Makka the center of the worldwide Islamic movement and installed his elder son, Prophet Ismail, to continue his mission. But what happens after they were all gone?
Idol worship dominated again
Only God knows exactly how long Ismail’s children stayed on the right path. But within a few centuries of the death of Ibrahim and Ismail, people had abandoned their teachings and had gradually gone astray like all other people around them.
Hundreds of idols were installed in the sacred Ka’ba, which had been built as a center for the worship of the One God.
Ironically enough, idols were made of Ibrahim and Ismail too, whose whole lives had been spent wiping out idol-worship.
The descendants of Ibrahim, who had cast off all idols, began to worship idols again. They worshipped the sun, moon, Venus, and Saturn. They also worshipped jinns, ghosts, angels and the spirits of their dead ancestors.
Superstition rose to such a level that if they did not have the family idol with them while away from home, they worshipped any stone they came across on their way. Or, if no stone was available, even a ball made of clay with a sprinkle of goat’s milk over it served as their god.
Reverting to the same kind of priesthood which Ibrahim had fought so fiercely against in Iraq, they turned the Ka’ba into a sort of temple and installed themselves as priests there. Adopting all the tricks of priests, they began accepting gifts and offerings from pilgrims flocking from the four corners of Arabia.
In this way, all the work done by Ibrahim and Ismail was destroyed and the purpose for which they had introduced the system of Hajj was superseded by different types of objectives.
How Corrupted Hajj Became
It became a Yearly Carnival
The degree to which Hajj was corrupted in that period of Ignorance can be gauged from the fact that it degenerated into an annual carnival. For many tribes from near and far, Hajj became an important social event.
Poets and clowns used it to brag and boast about the bravery, renown, dignity, strength, and generosity of their tribes. They even resorted to hurling insults at one another.
The chiefs of the tribes vied with each other in flaunting their generosity. They slaughtered camel after camel with the sole purpose of extolling their name, generosity, and hospitality.
Singing, revelry, drinking, and, adultery were part and parcel of the festivities. The thought of God scarcely occurred to anybody.
Circumambulation (tawaf) of the Ka’ba did continue, it is true, but in what form? Men and women walked together around God’s House stark naked, saying, ‘We go before God just as our mothers gave birth to us.’
Worship also continued to be performed in the mosque of Ibrahim, but again, in what form? By clapping hands, by whistling and by blowing horns.
The name of God was proclaimed, but with what words? They said: Here am I, my Lord, I am present. No one is Thy partner except the one who is Thine. Thou art its master, of whatever it possesses.
They did make sacrifices in the name of God. But the blood of the sacrificial animals was spilled on the walls of the Ka’ba and their flesh thrown at its door in the belief that Allah needs that flesh and blood.
Fulfillment of Ibrahim’s Prayer
This situation lasted for about two thousand years. No prophet was born in Arabia during this long period nor did any prophet’s genuine teachings reach the people of Arabia.
Finally, however, the time arrived for granting Ibrahim’s prayer which he had made while raising the walls of the Ka’ba:
Our Lord! Do Thou send to them a Messenger, from among them, who shall convey unto them Thy revelations, and teach them the Book and the Wisdom, and purify and develop them (al-Baqarah 2:129)
The perfect man who descended from Ibrahim was Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, blessings and peace be on him.
Just as Ibrahim was born into a family of priests, so was Muhammad, blessings, and peace be on him, into a family which had been for centuries priests of the Ka’ba.
Just as Ibrahim struck a blow with his own hands against the priesthood of his family, so did Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, finally eradicating it for good.
Again, just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, revive the same pure Din which had been introduced by Ibrahim.
After 21 years, when he had completed this work, once again, at God’s command, he declared the Ka’ba the center of the believers and issued the same summons to the people to come to it for Hajj as had Ibrahim.
A duty owed to God by all men is the Pilgrimage to the House if one is able to make his way there. And as for the disbeliever, God is All-sufficient, needing nothing from all the worlds (AI ‘Imran 3: 97).
Along with the renewal of Hajj in its proper form came an end to the customs of the time of Ignorance which had persisted for two thousand years.
After abolishing all perverse customs of the pre-Islamic days, Hajj was made a model of piety, fear of God, purity, simplicity, and austerity.
The pilgrims were ordered to purify themselves spiritually, to give up worldly things, to avoid all sexual desires, even refrain from intercourse with their wives, and to totally refrain from using bad and abusive language.
Fixing Boundaries were defined on all roads leading to the Ka’ba to indicate the points beyond which no pilgrims were allowed to proceed without putting on two seamless garments, the Ihram or the robes of poverty, so that the rich and the poor would become equal, distinctions of nationality would disappear, and everyone would arrive at the court of Allah in a state of oneness as humble suppliants.
It was prohibited to kill any animal while wearing Ihram, let alone a human being. The object was to ensure that peace and security prevailed, aggressiveness was controlled, and spiritually gripped the hearts and minds of the pilgrims.
The four months of Hajj were made sacred so that no fighting took place during this period, peace reigned on all the roads leading to the Ka’ba and no pilgrims were molested en route.
When the pilgrims reached the Ka’ba, there were no funfairs, no carnivals. Instead, there was remembrance of God at every step. There were Prayers, sacrifices and circumambulation (Tawaf) of the Ka’ba. The only cry that one could hear was that which arose from the heart of the pilgrim:
“Labbayk, Allahumma labbayk, labbayk la sharika laka labbayk, Innal Hamda wan nimata laka wal mulk, la sharika lak.”
“Here I am, O Lord, here I am, you indeed have no partner, here I am. No Doubt, all praise and bounties are yours, and so is the absolute Domain. You indeed have no partners, here I am”
Such selfless and sincere Hajj the Prophet, blessings, and peace be on him, has described thus:
Whosoever performs Hajj solely for the sake of God and, in the course of it, abstains from sensuality and disobedience, he returns from there as immaculate as a child just born (Bukhari, Muslim).