Going through Surah Saffat (37), I came across a very beautiful section. Right after Allah (swt) talks about Ibrahim (as) when he, as a young man taught his people about Shirk and Tauheed, it is mentioned that when Ibrahim (as) grew old, Allah (swt) blessed him with a beautiful son named Ismail (as). Ismail (as) learnt to walk but we don’t know his exact age. Some scholars state that he had just started to walk, while others say that he could actually walk at the same pace as his father Ibrahim (as), so he might have been thirteen years of age.
Nevertheless, Ibrahim (as) saw in his dream that he was killing his son. This is mentioned in the Quran:
“And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: ‘O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you think!’ He said: ‘O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).’” (As-Saffat 37:102)
Ibrahim (as) beautified his son Ismail (as) on that day, put on him his best clothes, and fed him a great breakfast. Then he took him to the place of slaughtering. Some scholars of Tafseer state it was Mina, which is in Makkah, while others say it was Syria.
“Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering).” (As-Saffat 37:103)
When Ibrahim (as) laid Ismail (as) on the ground and sharpened his sword, tears rolled down his cheeks. Verse 103 states “Falamma Aslama” (“when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah)”) and “Wa Tallaho lil Jabeen” (“he had laid him prostrate on his forehead”). This is strange because when you place someone on the ground, you generally have him lie face up, so when you cut the neck, you simply slit the windpipe. If you place him face down, you will have to cut his spinal cord in the bones.
So why did Ibrahim (as) put him face down? And what was the purpose of asking Ibrahim (as) to slaughter his son?
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