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Sacrifice of Isaac or Ishmael?

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  • Sacrifice of Isaac or Ishmael?

    Source sura: Quran 37:1-182 (Pickthal)

    The following article summarizes the debate:

    Many Muslims allege that one indication that the Bible has been altered to discredit Islam is the story of Abraham and the divine command to sacrifice his son. Most Muslims insist that this son was Ishmael. The Bible, however, claims that the son was Isaac (Genesis 22:9, Hebrews 11:17, and James 2:21). -Answering Islam
    The source gives various arguments as to why the Bible is correct on the matter, and has other more in-depth articles on the issue. I'll start with a glaring one I noticed many years ago reading the Quran, which is simply that the name of Ishmael is never mentioned in the entire surah (chapter); only the name of Isaac appears.

    The pertinent section is part of an essay on various prophets, Noah preceding discussion of Abraham, and after, Moses and Aaron, and so on. The section on Abraham:

    Quran 37: And lo! of his persuasion verily was Abraham (83) When he came unto his Lord with a whole heart; (84) When he said unto his father and his folk: What is it that ye worship? (85) Is it a falsehood - gods beside Allah - that ye desire? (86) What then is your opinion of the Lord of the Worlds? (87) And he glanced a glance at the stars (88) Then said: Lo! I feel sick! (89) And they turned their backs and went away from him. (90) Then turned he to their gods and said: Will ye not eat? (91) What aileth you that ye speak not? (92) Then he attacked them, striking with his right hand. (93) And (his people) came toward him, hastening. (94) He said: Worship ye that which ye yourselves do carve (95) When Allah hath created you and what ye make? (96) They said: Build for him a building and fling him in the red-hotfire. (97) And they designed a snare for him, but We made them the undermost. (98) And he said: Lo! I am going unto my Lord Who will guide me. (99) My Lord! Vouchsafe me of the righteous. (100) So We gave him tidings of a gentle son. (101) And when (his son) was old enough to walk with him, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice thee. So look, what thinkest thou? He said: O my father! Do that which thou art commanded. Allah willing, thou shalt find me of the steadfast. (102) Then, when they had both surrendered (to Allah), and he had flung him down upon his face, (103) We called unto him: O Abraham! (104) Thou hast already fulfilled the vision. Lo! thus do We reward the good. (105) Lo! that verily was a clear test. (106) Then We ransomed him with a tremendous victim. (107) And We left for him among the later folk (the salutation): (108) Peace be unto Abraham! (109) Thus do We reward the good. (110) Lo! he is one of Our believing slaves. (111) And we gave him tidings of the birth of Isaac, a prophet of the righteous. (112) And We blessed him and Isaac. And of their seed are some who do good, and some who plainly wrong themselves. (113)
    One Muslim reasoning for considering that Ishmael was the subject of sacrifice is that 37:101 mentions one tidings, then 37:112 mentions tidings for Isaac, so the first tidings must be for the older son Ishmael and the second tidings must be for the younger son Isaac.

    Rather than considering that 37:101 is for Isaac, and that 37:112 is simply a reinforcement of what was said earlier about Isaac.

    ---------------------------------

    I'll start with that much and see where the discussion leads.

  • #2
    why is it important for Christians which son it was?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by siam View Post
      why is it important for Christians which son it was?
      I think it's important for both Christians and Muslims to believe that our books are accurate, so a debate exists because we believe our respective books say different things. My suggestion is that both of our books are correct on the matter, and both imply Isaac was bound since Ishmael is never explicitly mentioned in either the Bible or Quran in connection with that event.

      Comment


      • #4
        "My suggestion is that both of our books are correct on the matter, and both imply Isaac was bound since Ishmael is never explicitly mentioned in either the Bible or Quran in connection with that event."

        ---or perhaps one could look at this another way---that the identity of the son is not important to the main point of the story---which in the Islamic context would be that Prophet Abraham(pbuh) was being tested.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by siam View Post
          "My suggestion is that both of our books are correct on the matter, and both imply Isaac was bound since Ishmael is never explicitly mentioned in either the Bible or Quran in connection with that event."

          ---or perhaps one could look at this another way---that the identity of the son is not important to the main point of the story---which in the Islamic context would be that Prophet Abraham(pbuh) was being tested.
          If it's not important why don't some Muslims just go with what the Bible says about it and instead say it is Ishmael? If not for them thinking it was important, this thread wouldn't exist.

          Comment


          • #6
            Presumably, which one to-be-sacrificed was the son through whom God's promise to Abraham (to be the father of nations) would be fulfilled; if it was Ishmael rather than Isaac whom Abraham nearly sacrificed, then Ishmael's line (which supposedly leads to Muhammad) carries more legitimacy than Isaac's, and vice-versa. Does this dispute carry pivotal theological significance? No, but it's a way to score points, especially since (if I recall correctly), among the claims of Muslim tradition is that Christianity corrupted the holy books it received: this is one example to which they might point.
            Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

            Comment


            • #7
              You both bring up interesting points--

              Why Muslims argue about Ishmael?---I too wonder why...but yes, we do. ......Perhaps for entertainment?

              God's promise to Abraham---No, the identity of the son makes no difference from a Quranic standpoint. The promise was to his progeny and would therefore apply to both Ishmael and Isaac.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by siam View Post
                You both bring up interesting points--

                Why Muslims argue about Ishmael?---I too wonder why...but yes, we do. ......Perhaps for entertainment?

                God's promise to Abraham---No, the identity of the son makes no difference from a Quranic standpoint. The promise was to his progeny and would therefore apply to both Ishmael and Isaac.
                Biblically as well, since Gentiles are graffed in to the promise of Isaac, Romans 11, effectively reuniting Isaac and Ishmael under Abraham's promise.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What is the Christian interpretation of this story?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by siam View Post
                    What is the Christian interpretation of this story?
                    One view is that the event foreshadowed God the Father sacrificing His Son for the cross, with both sons being willing to die for God's Will. As such God's promise to Abraham would go through Isaac and Jews to Jesus descended from his seed. Then Jesus opened the promise to Gentiles, in my own view a reuniting of Isaac and Ishmael both under and receiving Abraham's promise in the New Covenant.

                    Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
                    In that sense Ishmael's righteous seed always had Abraham's promise through Isaac's seed, but it had to go through Isaac then Jesus first.

                    I also believe that the following verse may imply that Islam is the great nation as it may look to Ishmael as an inheritance, in that although Muslims may differ with Christians on Trinity and many other issues, they still do not deny the basic ideas of the God of Israel and His prophets and Jesus as Messiah like other Gentiles and Jews in the world may do. In a way I see Islam and Christianity still like Ishmael and Isaac bickering under father Abraham and God, but they'll reconcile in the end.

                    Genesis 17:20 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.

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