granted that isma'il was the first to make of makkah a permanent habitat, the history of the city before isma'il is rather obscure. perhaps it can be said that makkah was used as a place of worship even before isma'il had migrated there. the story of the latter's migration to makkah demands that we summarize
the story of his father, ibrahim-may god's peace be upon him. ibrahim was born in 'iraq to a father whose occupation was carpentry and the making and selling of statues for worship. as ibrahim grew up and observed his father making these statues out of pieces of wood, he was struck by his people's worship and consecration of them. he doubted these deities and was troubled by his doubt. one day he asked his father to explain how he could worship that which his hand had wrought. unsatisfied by his father's answer, ibrahim talked about his doubts to his friends, and soon the father began to fear the consequences for the security of his son as well as for his own trade. ibrahim, however, respected his own reason too much to silence its voice. accordingly, he sought to convince his people of the futility of idol worship with argument and proof. once he seized the opportunity of the absence of worshipers from the temple and destroyed all the statues of the gods but that of the principal deity. when he was accused in public of this crime he was asked:
"was it you ibrahim, who destroyed our gods?" he answered: "no, rather, it was the principal god who destroyed the other gods. ask them, for they would speak, wouldn't they?"[qur'an, 21:62-63].
ibrahim's destruction of the idols came after he had long pondered the error of idol worship and searched earnestly for a worthier object of devotion.
"when the night came, and ibrahim saw the star rise, he took it to be the true god. soon, however, the star set and ibrahim was disappointed. “ how could a veritable god set and disappear?” he asked himself. he then observed the moon shining brilliantly and thought: “ that is my lord.” but when it too set, he was all the more disappointed and thought: “ unless god guides me truly, i shall certainly go astray.” later on ibrahim observed the sun in its brilliant and dazzling glory and thought: “ this finally must be my lord, for it is the greatest of all. “but then it too set and disappeared. ibrahim was thus cured of the star worship common among his people. “ i shall devote myself,” he therefore resolved, “ to him who has created the heavens and the earth, i shall dedicate myself as a hanif and not be an idol worshiper.” [quran 6:76-79]