After a long journey, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) approached Makkah, which lies in a valley between desolate mountains. As there was no water, crops could not grow and human-life could not be sustained there. Accompanied by his wife Hajar and his son Isma’il (peace be upon him), Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was fleeing from the cult of idol-worship which had spread throughout the world. He wanted to establish a centre in which Allah alone would be worshipped and to which people could be called. It would be a beacon of guidance and a sanctuary of peace, radiating true faith and righteousness.
Allah accepted Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) intention and blessed the spot. After Ibrahim (peace be upon him) had left the inhospitable territory, water flowed from a spring to provide his small family with the means to survive. Hajar and Isma’il (peace be upon them both) dwelt in this arid place far away from other people. Allah blessed the spring of Zamzam and, to this day, people continue to drink its water and to take it with them to all corners of the globe.
While Isma’il (peace be upon him) was growing up, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) visited his family. He wanted to sacrifice Isma’il (peace be upon him), who was still only a child, in order to show that his love of Allah was greater than his love for his son, just as Allah had commanded him to in a dream. Isma’il (peace be upon him) also agreed to Allah’s command that he should be sacrificed. But Allah saved him and provided a ram from Paradise as a ransom to be sacrificed instead. Isma’il (peace be upon him)’s survival meant that he would be able to help his father in calling people to Allah and to become the ancestor of the last Prophet of Allah, his exalted messenger.
On a later visit to Makkah, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his son together constructed the Ka’bah, the house of Allah. They prayed to Allah to accept the house and to bless their action. They also beseeched Allah to allow them to live and die in Islam and for Islam to continue after their death. They asked Allah to send a Prophet from among their descendants to renew the call of his ancestor Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and to complete what he had begun.
“And remember Abraham said: "My Lord, make this a City of Peace, and feed its people with fruits,-such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day." He said: "(Yea), and such as reject Faith,-for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire,- an evil destination (indeed)!" And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing. "Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. "Our Lord! send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (2:126-129)
Allah blessed their descendants and the family multiplied in the barren valley. ‘Adnan, a descendant of Isma’il (peace be upon him) had man children. Among ‘Adnan’s descendants Fihr ibn Mail in particular, was a distinguished chief of the tribe. From Fihr’s descendants Qusay ibn Kilab emerged. He ruled Makkah and held the keys to the Ka’bah. He inspired obedience, was the guardian of waters of Zamzam and was responsible for feeding the pilgrims. He also presided at the assemblies where the nobles of Makkah gathered for consultation and he held the banner for war. He alone controlled the affairs of Makkah.
Among his sons ‘Abd Manaf was the most illustrious, while his eldest son Hashim became a great man of the people. He provided food for the people. He provided food and water for the pilgrims coming to Makkah. He was the father of Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) grandfather, who was also in charge of feeding and giving water to the pilgrims. He was honoured and held in high esteem by his people and his popularity outstripped that of his ancestors. His people loved him.
The descendants of Fihr ibn Malik were called Quraysh. This name came to predominate over all others and the tribe adopted it. All the Arabs recognized the excellent lineage and nobility of the Quraysh. Their eloquence, civility, gallantry and high-mindedness were unanimously accepted.
Source: Nadwi, Sayyed Abul Hasan, Muhammad The Last Prophet – A model for all time, UK Islamic Academy, Leicester, UK, 2006, p.15-17.
* With minor changes.