Ibrahim (alayhis salam) was a great prophet. When he was young, he lived among people who refused to worship Allah. Instead they prayed to other things, among them idols which they had made themselves.
There were many, many different idols that were worshipped. Big giant ones, little tiny ones, even one made full of sweets! People would worship them and give their idols food and luxaries, expecting their idols to grant them things.
Once Ibrahim (alayhis salam) said to his father, "Do you take these idols for gods? If you do, then you and your people are wrong."
Ibrahim (alayhis salam) knew it was not right to worship idols, for it was against the will of Allah. Allah had also taught Ibrahim (alayhis salam) many other things.
One evening, for instance, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) saw a bright star in the sky and he said, "That is my God!". But as the star faded away it became clear to Ibrahim (alayhis salam) that the star was not God.
On another occasion, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) saw the moon shining brightly in the night sky, and he again said. "That is my God!". But as the moon disappeared, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) realized that the moon was not God.
Finally, he saw the bright sun rising at dawn and he said, "That must be my God because it is the biggest thing in the sky". But when sunset came, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) realized, once more, that this was not God. Only Allah was God.
Ibrahim (alayhis salam) then said,
"O my people, I am free from your guilt of worshipping other gods apart from Allah. I firmly and truly turn my face to Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and I shall never worship any god but Allah. Who is the creator of all these things. For Allah had created the stars, the sun and the moon. Allah is the Master of the worlds."
Ibrahim (alayhis salam) went among the people and told them they must worship Allah only. For it is Allah Who created the stars, the sun, and the moon. Allah also created the plants, and animals for food. The sun, moon and stars cannot give anything to eat. Allah has made the earth so that people can live on it. Therefore people should turn away from their false gods and worship Allah alone, and always do good.
Ibrahim (alayhis salam) spoke of all these things and also said to his father and his people: "What are these images to which you are so devoted?"
"Our fathers worshipped them," they replied.
"You and your fathers, you have clearly been wrong," Ibrahim (alayhis salam) rejoined. Then he informed them that they should worship only Allah, who has created everything.
Ibrahim (alayhis salam) also had a plan for dealing with the idols. When the people were out of the way, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) went into the building where all the idols were kept and broke all their idols and images to pieces!. But he left intact and unbroken the biggest idol of all.
When the people discovered their idols all smashed and in pieces, they were very angry.
"Who has done this to our gods?", they cried. Then some of them remembered that they had heard Ibrahim (alayhis salam) speaking against their idols.
So, they brought Ibrahim (alayhis salam) and asked him, "Are you the one who did this to our gods, O Ibrahim?" He replied, "No, it was the biggest one of them who did it", said Ibrahim (alayhis salam)."Why do you not ask them, if they can speak properly?"
At this, the idol-worshippers felt ashamed. "You know very well that they cannot speak," they told Ibrahim (alayhis salam).
"Do you then worship things that can neither be of any good to you nor do you any harm?", Ibrahim asked.
At this, the people became angrier than ever. In revenge, they threw Ibrahim (alayhis salam) into a fire!. Ibrahim (alayhis salam) might have been badly burned, perhaps killed. But he had Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala)'s help. Allah made the fire cool so that Ibrahim (alayhis salam) was not burned at all.
Later, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) left these idolatrous people and went to another country.
When he was an old man, he had two sons, Ismail and Ishaq (alayhis salam). Both of them were good and just men, and both were prophets of Allah. Ishaq (alayhis salam)'s son Yaqub (alayhis salam), was also a prophet. So you can see that Ibrahim and his children were greatly blessed by Allah (alayhum salam).
But first, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) had to endure a great test. An angel came to him and said: You have to sacrifice your only son.
Ibrahim (alayhis salam) became very sad at this, but all the same, he know that Allah had given him an order and he had to obey it.
But first of all, he asked his son if he would agree. The son was good and pious, and he consoled his father:
"Dear father", he said calmly, "if Allah has ordered it, then you must obey, so sacrifice me. Do not fear: with the help of Allah, I shall be brave".
So, full of sorrow, Ibrahim (alayhis salam) prepared to kill his son. But before he actually did so, he heard a voice:
"You have shown your good intentions", the voice told Ibrahim (alayhis salam), "this is sufficient. You have already fulfilled Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala)'s will."
Thus Ibrahim (alayhis salam)'s son was saved, and Ibrahim understood that Allah had been testing him. Of course, Ibrahim (alayhis salam)was overcome with joy that he would not have to kill his son. They both thanked Allah and sacrificed instead an animal, as Allah had ordered.
To remember this occasion we Muslims celebrate every year and like Ibrahim and his son, we sacrifice an animal.
This reminds us that Allah put Ibrahim (alayhis salam) to a test to see whether he would really obey him. Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salam) passed the test and we celebrate in remembrance of this.
Like Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salam), we also share the meat of the sacrificed animal with the poor people and our friends. On this occasion, we also thank Allah for everything that He has given us and for the lesson He taught us through the rescue of Ibrahim (alayhis salam).
Later, Ibrahim and his son Ismail (alayhum salam) built the Ka'bah in Makkah and then they both prayed:
"O Allah, take this house in Your grace and help us and the people who come to us to be truly good Muslims."
Allah heard this prayer, and blessed the Ka'bah and the town of Makkah. To this day, Muslims all over the world turn and face in the direction of the Ka'bah in Makkah when they are praying.
Muslims from all over the world come to the Ka'bah during the pilgrimage season. They come on foot, on camels, by car and aeroplanes.
The Ka'bah is the oldest prayer house of Allah on earth. It is at the Ka'bah that all Muslims worship Allah together, and that includes all those who lived earlier, all those who are living now and all those who will live in the future.