“Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
“If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.” (Jesus, John; 8:39)
” So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”(Galatians;3:6-7),
“..I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”[Paul; Acts;24:14-15]
“Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to God), and he was not of the idolaters. Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Mohammad) and those who believe (with him); and God is the Protecting Friend of the believers.”[Qur’an;3:67-68]
Abraham is estimated to have lived in early 2nd Millennia B.C (around 1800 BC) at Ur (Mesopotamia) Iraq. He is the common ancestor and spiritual leader of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike, also revered by people of other faiths. He discovered the existence of One God through his intellect, thought process and with grace of God. Allah says: “So also did We show Abraham the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth that he might (with understanding) have certitude. When the night covered him over he (Abraham) saw a star: he said: “this is my Lord!” But when it set he said: “I love not those that set.” When he saw the moon rising in splendor He said: “This is my Lord!” but when the moon set he said: “Unless my Lord guide me I shall surely be among those who go astray.” When he saw the sun rising in splendor he said: “This is my Lord! this is the greatest (of all).” But when the sun set he said: “O my people! I am (now) free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. “For me I have set my face firmly and truly toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.”(Qur’an;6:75-79);“And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.”(Genesis:15:6). Once he was appointed the Messenger of Allah, he was blessed with special favours. Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) invited the people to Islam (submission to one God):” When his people started arguing with him, he told them: “Will you argue with me about Allah, whereas He Himself has guided me? I do not fear those whom you take for gods besides Him, none can harm me unless my Lord so wills, the knowledge of my Lord encompasses everything, why don’t you get admonition?(Qur’an;6:80). Allah says: “It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with wrong that are (truly) in security for they are on (right) guidance. That was the reasoning about Us which We gave to Abraham (to use) against his people: We raise whom We will degree after degree: for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge.”(Qur’an;6:82-83).
Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was successful in the trial, he was childless, he was granted sons at old age, Ishmael, from his second wife Hager, and later Isaac (Ishaq) from his first wife Sara. According to an Islamic tradition he left Ishmael at Makka while he was older enough. The other tradition narrates that he had to leave the infant Isma’il and his mother at a far off place in desert (Makka). They miraculously survived due to water of spring (Zamzam). Abraham’s faith was so great that later he went to obey God’s command to sacrifice his only son (Ishmael), however at the last minute; God permitted him to substitute a ram. Muslim tradition identifies the son to be sacrificed as Ishmael (Biblical traditions claim, Isaac). Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) again came to Makka to rebuilt the first house of Allah, Ka’ba with Isma’il as a sign of God’s covenant with them and established the rituals of pilgrimage (Hajj). Allah says: “And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower.”(Qur’an;2:127).
Who was offered for Sacrifice?
A controversy has raged between the followers of the Bible and the adherents of Islam as to which of the sons of Abraham, Ishmael or Isaac was offered as a sacrifice. It is important to note that, a peculiar sanctity was attached to the first-born both of man and of cattle among people right since the time of Adam, it was especially of great importance among the Israelites. God claimed that the first-born males of man and of animals should be consecrated to him, the one as a priest (Exodus;19:22,24), representing the family to which he belonged, and the other to be offered up in sacrifice (Geneis;4:4). The laws concerning this redemption of the first-born of man are recorded in Exodus;13:12-15; 22:29; 34:20; Numbers;3:45; 8:17; 18:16 and Leviticus;12:2,4. Even the first-fruits of the ground were offered unto God just as the first-born of man and animals. Ishmael, without any doubt was first born son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). The Bible is quite clear in designating the offering: “He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori’ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”(Genesis;22:2). If at anytime, an offspring of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) can be described as “thine only son: it could only be Ishmael, because for more than thirteen years, he was the only son and seed of Abraham. God Almighty acknowledges Ishmael as the “son and seed” of Abraham in no less than twelve places in the Book of Genesis alone. At no time was Isaac the only son and seed of Abraham. The false pen of the scribe was in the hand of the Hebrews who edited the Books of Moses, as the prophet Jeremiah lament: “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law (the Torah) of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribe is in vain.”(Jeremiah;8:8). When the Hebrews are found to convert an Israelite into an Ishmaelite when no motives are involved, then how much easier for them to change the word “you only son Ishmael” to : your only son Isaac!”
Covenant and Iniquitous Decedents:
Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is the original monotheist in the known history, purifier of God’s house, builder of the Ka’ba, and a Muslim (having surrendered to the will of God), who preached against idolatry and sin. The scripture of revelations to Abraham is mentioned in Qur’an;53:36-37 & 87:18-19, which is now extinct, though ‘Testament of Abraham’ had been popular among Christians. He destroyed the idols and survived attempt by the king to burn him alive. After successful trials he was rewarded by God for his faith and given a position of spiritual leadership of the mankind, to be passed down to his descendants, excluding the wrong doers (Qur’an;2:124). Allah says: “Do they, perchance, envy other people for what God has granted them out of His bounty? But then, We did grant revelation and wisdom unto the House of Abraham (aal Ibraahem– Descendants), and We did bestow on them a mighty dominion:”(Qur’an;4:54). The descendants obviously include the progeny of Ishmael and Isaac (peace be upon them). The claim of the children of Israel as “Chosen People of God” by virtue of their decent from Abraham, who was made “a leader of mankind” by God, was totally negated. God makes it clear that the exalted status of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was not something that would automatically confer a comparable status on this physical descendants, and definitely not on the sinners among them. God also took solemn pledge from the Children of Israel and those call themselves as Christians, but they broke it. Allah says: ““Remember Allah’s favor to you and the covenant by which He bound you to Himself when you said: “We hear and we obey.” Have fear of God; surely God knows the secrets of your hearts.”(Qur’an;5:7); “God accepted a covenant from the Children of Israel and appointed twelve chieftains from among them and said: “I am with you; if you establish Prayers (Salah) pay Alms (Zakah), believe in My Messengers, support them and give a generous loan to Allah (spend in charity), I will wipe out from you your evils and admit you to gardens with rivers flowing beneath; However, if any one of you, after this, violates this covenant, he will indeed go astray from the Right Way. Even after that, they broke their covenant; as a result, We laid on them Our curse and hardened their hearts. They tempered with words out of their context and neglected much of what they were enjoined. You will always find most of them deceitful except for a few of them. Yet forgive them and overlook their misdeeds. Allah loves those who are kind to others.”(Qur’an;5:12-13). Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) settled at Palestine, he died at very old age and was buried in Hebron, near Jerusalem.
Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was the true faithful, Allah says: “And who, unless he be weak of mind, would want to abandon Abraham’s creed, seeing that We have indeed raised him high in this world, and that, verily, in the life to come he shall be among the righteous? When his Sustainer said to him, “Surrender thyself unto Me!”-he answered, “I have surrendered myself unto [Thee,] the Sustainer of all the worlds.” And this very thing did Abraham bequeath unto his children, and [so did] Jacob: when he said: “O my sons! Allah has chosen for you this way of life (Deen), therefore, die not unless you have surrendered yourself un to Him. “Nay, but you [yourselves, O children of Israel,] bear witness that when death was approaching Jacob, he said unto his sons: “Whom will you worship after I am gone?” They answered: “We will worship thy God, the God of thy forefathers Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, the One God; and unto Him w1ll we surrender ourselves.”(Qur’an;2:130-133).
The Biblical Account:
The narrative of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is given in the book of Genesis, chapter 12 to 36. The childless septuagenarian receives promises. He gets a son, Ishmael, by Hagar, given to him as his wife by his wife Sara: “And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife.”(Genesis:16:3). [Hagar was an Egyptian princess according to Jewish traditions] . Out of jealously Sara forces her to leave with young son Ishmael in to wilderness, where angel appears to tell her: “Arise, lift up the lad (Ishmael), and hold him in thy hand. For I will make him a great nation.”(Genesis:21:18). (According to a Muslim traditions, infant Ishmael along with his mother Hagar was left in the wilderness at Makka, an uninhabited place at that time, who subsequently become the ancestor of Arabs. Muhammad, peace be upon him, the last Prophet, belongs to the progeny of Ishmael.)
Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is awarded with a covenant from God that his “seed” will inherit the land and become a numerous nation: “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.”(Genesis;17:7-10); “And God said, Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. (Genesis;17:19-22).
At the age of 100 years, Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) gets a son Isaac, by Sarah, who is to be the heir of the promise. Yet Abraham is ready to obey God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, a test of his faith, which he is not required to consummate in the end because God substitutes a ram. [Muslim traditions and internal evidence from Bible about age of child and timings support that it was Ishmael not Isaac]. At Sarah’s death, he purchases the cave of Machpelah near Hebron, together with the adjoining ground, as a family burying place. Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) dies at the age of 175 and buried in the cave of Machpelah (Genesis;25:9). This place is venerated today in Hebron, at the Haram al-Khalil (Holy Place of the Friend), under the mosque. Abraham is pictured in Bible with various characteristics: a righteous man, with wholehearted commitment to God; a man of peace (in settling a boundary dispute with his nephew Lot), compassionate (he argues and bargains with God to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah), and hospitable (he welcomes three visiting angels); a quick-acting warrior as he rescued Lot and his family from a raiding party, however on his return from this expedition, Abraham is honored by Melchizedek, a personality with unique characteristics, portrayed by Bible, even superior to Adam and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him): “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever. See how great he is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils.”(Hebrews;7:1-4); “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”(Genesis;14:18-20). “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”(Psalms;110:4). Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is also depicted as giving wrong statement to save his own skin: “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. And Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.”(Geneses;20:2). The incidence of Abraham passing off Sarah as his sister [in faith, and step relationship acceptable then] and letting her be picked by the Egyptian pharaoh for his harem, but she miraculously returns unmolested due to her piety and prayers accepted by God, with Hagar given as gift, has also been Narrated by Abu Hurairah in Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith 3.420 & 4.578. Overall Abraham appears as both a man of great spiritual depth and strength and a person with human limitations and needs.