Why did Hz. Ibrahim leave Hz. Hagar and Hz. Ismail in Makkah and go away?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- Prophets do not do the things are not in accordance with Allah's consent. If Allah wishes, He limits the behavior of His prophet through revelation and tells him how he should act; and if He wishes, He lets him free to do what he wants. If he makes a mistake, He warns him through revelation.

- Allah wanted to have the Kaaba built by Hz. Ibrahim (pbuh) and his son Ismail and placed them there for this reason. He made it a wise reason for Ismail to undergo such an adventure for the water of Zamzam to come out.

- Allah, first separated Ismail’s father, whom he would test through making him slaughter his son, from him to give him a preliminary test through the problem of separation.

- It was necessary for Hz. Ibrahim to take the love of his beloved ones out of his heart in order to be a khalil (friend) of Allah and put the love of Allah only in his heart.

- The divine wisdom wanted such an adventure to take place in order to eternalize the memory of the places that would be the qiblah in prayer and rituals in hajj for the Prophet Muhammad, who was one of the descendants of Hz. Ibrahim and Hz. Ismail.  

- We agree with your determinations related to his occasional visits.

The narrations regarding the issue are as follows:

After Hagar married Hz. Ibrahim, God Almighty gave them a child called Ismail.  However, Sara, who longed for a child for years, started to envy her. She started to seek ways of moving Hagar away from her. Finally, she asked Hz. Ibrahim to take them away to somewhere else. Hz. Ibrahim hesitated for a while but when God Almighty gave permission, he took Hagar and her son Ismail and set off for Makkah.

Hz. Ibrahim set off with Hz. Ismail and her mother, who was still breastfeeding him and who had a water-skin with her. Hz. Ibrahim left them under a tree called Dawha, which was near the place of the Kaaba. It was a place in the upper side of the Kaaba and on the Zamzam Well. Nobody lived in Makkah at that time and there was no water.  Hz. Ibrahim placed Hagar and her son there with an old bag containing dates and a water-skin full of water. Then, he walked away (upon the order of Allah) to go to Damascus.

Ismail's mother followed him, and caught up with him near Kada. She called out, “O Ibrahim! To whom are you leaving us in this place where there is nobody?” She repeated it a few times. Hz. Ibrahim did not return to look at her because of the order of Allah. She called again, "Did Allah order you to do so?" Thereupon, Hz. Ibrahim replied, "Yes!" She said, "Then, our Lord will protect us. He will not allow us to be destroyed" Then, she returned. Hz. Ibrahim continued walking. When he reached Thaniyya Hill, where they could not see him, he turned toward the Kaaba, raised his hands and prayed as follows:

"O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: so that they may give thanks." (Ibrahim, 14/37)

Ismail’s mother breastfed the child and drank the water she had. When the water ran out, she and her child felt thirsty. (Ismail was two years old then). She looked at the child who was dying of thirst. She could not put up with watching him like that and went to Safa Hill, which was the nearest place to her. She ascended the hill and looked down the valley with the hope of seeing some people but she could not see anybody. She came down Safa Hill, reached the valley and rolled up her dress. She started to run; she passed the valley and reached Marwa Hill. She ascended the hill and looked around, hoping to see somebody, but she could not see anybody.

She went between two hills seven times. That is why hajjis run between two hills seven times during hajj.  When she approached Marwa, she heard a voice. She said to herself, "Hush!" She listened and heard that voice again. Thereupon, she said, "(O the owner of the voice!) You have made your voice heard. Help us if you can offer any help." Then, an angel became manifest on the place where the well of Zamzam is present now. It was Jibril (Gabriel). He asked the woman, "Who are you?" She said, "I am Hagar, the mother of Ibrahim’s son." "To whom did Ibrahim entrust you?" "To Allah." Jibril said, "He entrusted you to the being who could meet all your needs." He was digging the earth with the heel of his foot – or his wing. Finally, water started to come out of that place. She surrounded the water so that it would not flow away. Meanwhile, she filled her water-skin. As she took water, it gushed again.

Ibn Abbas said, "May Allah show mercy to Ismail's mother! If she had left Zamzam free and had not surrounded it, it would have been a flowing river." She drank water and breastfed her child. The angel said to her, "Do not fear that you will be lost or destroyed. There will be a house of Allah here. This child and his father will build it. Allah will not allow the owners of that task to be destroyed." The House was higher than the ground like a hill. The water had eroded the place around it.

A tribe of Jurhum stopped by while she was living with her son there. They arrived from the way of Kada. They stooped down below Makkah.  They saw a bird flying to and fro.  They said, "This bird is probably flying over a place where there is water. We know that there is no water in this valley." They sent one or two quick people to check. When those people saw the water, they returned to inform them about it.

The people of Jurhum proceeded toward that place and found Ismail’s mother next to the water. They said, "Will you allow us to settle next to this water?" She said, "Yes, but know that you have no right on the water." They said, "All right."

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Ismail’s mother regarded this offer appropriate since she needed some people to talk to. They settled there and informed the other members of their tribe of the place. They also came and settled there. Their numbers increased in time. Ismail grew up and learned Arabic from them

Hz. Ibrahim sometimes went to Makkah to visit his son and wife. Ismail grew up and started to take care of his mother. When his father wanted to sacrifice him, Iblis tried to deceive him; Iblis also wanted to deceive his mother and agitate her feeling of compassion. Hagar showed her reliance on Allah and was not deceived by the trick of Iblis. Thanks to her, Makkah and the places around became a place of settlement. When she died there, she was ninety years old.  

Sacrifice (Qurban)

When Hz. Ibrahim left his son and wife in the desert, he did not break off his relationship with them. He visited them from time to time and stayed with them. When Hz. Ismail reached a certain age, the famous incident of sacrificing occurred. This incident is narrated as follows in the Quran:   

"Then, when the son (Ismail) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he (Ibrahim) said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!’ So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him ‘O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!’ - thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial-And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice." (as-Saaffat, 37/102-107)

Construction of the Kaaba

Time flew and Ismail became 30 years old. It was time to fulfill the real purpose of Hz. Ibrahim’s taking his family to a desolate desert 30 years ago and making them settle there. In fact, Hz. Ibrahim had taken his family to the place where the foundations of the first temple of worship built by Hz. Adam were and left them there upon the order of Allah.

"The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings." (Aal-i Imran, 3/96)

"Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): ‘Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways.’" (al-Hajj, 22/26, 27)

Hz. Ibrahim and his son Hz. Ismail continued digging the ground until they reached the previous foundations. When they reached, they constructed the Kaaba on those foundations.


The prayer they said at that time is mentioned as follows in the Quran:

"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.’” (al-Baqara, 2/127-129)

It is understood from the following verse of the Quran that the result of this prayer of Hz. Ibrahim was the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

"A similar (favor have ye already received) in that We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, rehearsing to you Our Signs, and sanctifying you, and instructing you in Scripture and Wisdom, and in new knowledge." (al-Baqara, 2/151)

see Prof. Dr. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-i Sitte Muhtasarı Tercüme ve Şerhi, Akçağ yayınları, Ankara 1992, 14/222-226; Taberî; Milletler ve Hükümdarlar Tarihi, M.E. B yayınları, Istanbul 1991, 1/349; Bünyamin Ateş, Peygamberler Tarihi, Yeni Asya Neşriyat, 1993, p. 249.

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