:salams

Some people are troubled by this. They ask, was there no other way to test Ibrahim (as)'s sincerity and obedience? Many atheists love poking fun at this story, but in their ignorance fail to realize that it saved more children's lives than any of them could with their ridicule and condemnation for the sake of children.

The truth of the matter is that this was a great event in human history. Islam is a religion that is greater than you and me, and it was sent for all of mankind. And for centuries and right up until the Messenger of Allah :saw:'s birth, mankind loved to engage in human sacrifices for the sake of their religions. In fact Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Mutallib, father of :saw: was himself to be sacrificed by his own father due to nathr (a promise to Allah) that Abdul Mutallib made to sacrifice one of his sons (who ended up being Abdullah chosen when lots were drawn). The story can be found in seerah books in full and isn't the subject of the topic.

Ibrahim (as) lived in a time where this sort of thing was rampant. His own parents were wathanis themselves who may very well have viewed such things as the norm. Some of the civilizations who engaged in this were Semetic people as well, and are mentioned in the Tawraat. You can read about some these people on the wikipedia article on child sacrifice, although some of the accounts and quotes are quite disturbing to read. It really is sick stuff, in one Arabic source I have it also states that drums were used to drown out the screaming of children as they were burned alive. We know for a fact that Ibrahim (as) traveled to some of these civilizations in his time as well.

So when you have this sorry state of affairs, we see the story of Ibrahim (as) in a different light. He is shown a vision to sacrifice his child, then Allah (swt) sends him a kabsh or a large ram to sacrifice instead. The message being, Allah (swt) does not want these peoples' human sacrifices. He doesn't want the blood of anyone's children for sacrifice. And even in the tawraat, corrupted though it may be, it is also forbidden there because the Children of Israel used to engage in it in their ancient civilizations.

So it is not a matter of just testing Ibrahim (as)'s sincerity and obedience, though that lesson is certainly a part of what is learned from that. The beauty of that lesson may very well be what is focused on in the Qur'aan (by just how moving the verses are in this regard when the deeper meaning is examined), it never the less remains a clear example to those who used to sacrifice their children that what they are doing is not what Allah (swt) wants.

And Allah (swt) knows best. I just wanted to talk about this because there are many who like to cast this doubt and these are aayaat we read in the Qur'aan. If one does not recognize and appreciate the significance they have, they may feel something in their chests as they read, thanks to the whispers of the shayateen from the djinn and ins alike.