Ishmael and not Isaac!

· Agnosticism

What was the covenant that Allah gave to the Prophet Abraham and how has it played out for his two sons Ishmael and Isaac in the last 4000 years? If the promises and prophecies have come true over the last 4 millennia then there isevery reason to believe that they are relevant to our times also.

The Muslims take the Holy Quran to be the literal word of God and the Christians and the Jews understand it to be the word of Muhammad. Sir William Muir, a famous Orientalist and the Foreign Secretary of the Great Britian to the Indian Government in 1860s, writes in his biography of the Prophet Muhammad, “We may upon the strongest presumption affirm that every verse in the Quran is the genuine and unaltered composition of Muhammad himself, and conclude with at least a close approximation to the verdict of Von Hammer: That we hold the Quran to be as surely Muhammad’s word as the Muslims hold it to be word of God.” [1] Regardless of your perspective, allow me to begin my presentation with a few verses of the Holy Quran about Ishmael:

“When the boy (Ishmael) began to run about with him, Abra­ham said to him: Son, I have seen in my dream that I am slaughtering you. So con­sider what you think of it. The boy replied: Father, do what you are com­manded; you wilt find me, if Allah please, steadfast. When both were ready to sub­mit to Allah’s will, and he had thrown him down on his forehead, We called to him: Abraham, you have indeed fulfilled the dream. Thus do We reward those who do their duty to the utmost. That was surely a manifest trial. We ransomed the boy with a great sacrifice, and We pre­served for Abraham a good name in suc­ceeding generations. Peace be upon Abra­ham. Thus do We reward those who do their duty to the utmost. Surely, he was of Our believing servants. We gave him the glad tidings of Isaac, a Prophet, and one of the righteous.” (Al Quran 37:103-­113)

The Holy Quran says that it was to Ishmael as that Abraham as said, “Son, I have seen in my dream that I am slaughtering you. So con­sider what you think of it.” [1] The Holy Bible on the other hand wants to reserve this honor for Isaac as . Which account is true, on this issue, is the subject of this article, as therein lies the key to future of our world. There are no archeological findings to make either case. Additional evidence may be there in Dead Sea Scrolls or other books of the Bible that are being discovered now but for now we have the account of the Quran and the Bible only to pursue this question. Interestingly, the contradictions in the Bible give an easy victory to the Holy Quran. Incidentally, this also helps the broader case that the Holy Quran is not borrowed from the Bible, but is correction of the limitations of the Bible and much more.

All the quotes from the Bible are from the New King James Version that is available online. [2] The accentuations in the text have been added by the author of this article. Note that in this translation Abraham is called Abram and Sarah as the first wife of Abraham is also called Sarai. To contrast the claims of the Holy Quran and the Bible some basic information is necessary to grasp the discussion. The Holy Quran gives a wholly positive and uplifting account of Isaac and his immediate progeny but the same cannot be said for the Bible when it comes to Ishmael and his immediate descendents. A chapter of the Holy Quran is named after the grandson of Isaac, namely Joseph the Arabic being Yusuf. The Bible gives away its prejudice in the contradictions that are seen in its account. Abraham lived in the holy land about 2000 years before Jesus Christ as . Sarah and Hagar were Abraham’s wives. Sarah is mother of Isaac and Hagar is mother of Ishmael. Ishmael was 13 or 14 years older than Isaac. Isaac is forefather of many prophets including Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus Christ and represents Judaism and Christianity. Ishmael is the forefather of the Holy Prophet Muhammad saw and represents Islam. So, who had the honor of being the sacrifice, whether it was Ishmael or Isaac is of more than symbolic importance. We will examine the evidence in favor of Ishmael under a few headings.


The Holy Bible on more than one occasion highlights that it was the ‘only son,’ the one that Abraham deeply loved that was to be offered in sacrifice.

Abraham was seventy-five years old when God commanded him for migration. He journeyed from Ur (Mesopotamia) to Harran and from there to Canaan, which God decreed to give to his posterity. Abraham migrated from Ur with a few selected members including his nephew Lot. They passed through Egypt. The king was impressed by Abraham and offered some presents and a royal lady by the name of Hagar to him. Abraham and Sarah did not have any child, so when Hagar was presented to Abraham by the king of Egypt, Sarah married her to Abraham so that they can have a child. Abraham was eighty-five when he married Hagar. All of them were earnestly supplicating God for righteous progeny. The Bible mentions the childless state of Abraham as follows:

“But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.'” [3]


“Then the Angel of the LORD said to her (Hagar), ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’ And the Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction.’” [4]

The first child was born to Abraham from Hagar. The Bible says, “So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.” [5] After the birth of Ishmael, Sarah the elder wife of Abraham was also promised by God of a child, in words that confirmed sonship of Ishmael at the same time. In fact multiple promises were given to both Sarah and Hagar and their progeny:

“Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her

and also give you a sonby her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!’ Then God said, ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.’” [6]

Ishmael was yet a child when in obedience to divine command and in fulfillment of divine plan, Abraham brought him and his mother Hagar toa bleak and barren tract where Mecca now stands. At that time there was no sign of life and no means of sustenance at the place (Bukhari: a book of Hadith). But God had so designed that the place should become the scene of the activities of God’s last message for mankind. Ishmael was chosen as the vehicle for the implementation of this divine plan. The prophecy in response to a prayer of Abraham was made at a time when not a blade of grass was to be seen for many miles around Mecca.

It is recorded in the history that when Abraham left his child and his wife in that barren land, Hagar ran after him and asked Abraham, ‘Are you leaving us here?’ He did not answer. Then she asked him again saying, ‘Are you leaving us here by the command of God?’ Abraham just pointed towards the sky. She understood this and said, ‘Then God will not waste us,’ and returned to her son. What a faithful lady she was! She trusted in God and He provided her with all the necessary things and protected them. The child grew in that atmosphere and in due course this place became a town.

Abraham had seen a dream that he was slaughtering his only son. When Ishmael was twelve, Abraham came to visit them and mentioned the dream to him. The Holy Quran mentions the whole episode in Sura Saffat that has been quoted in the beginning of this article. By reading all the quoted verses it is clear that the honor of this sacrifice belonged to Ishmael. On the contrary, the Bible says, “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” (Genesis 22:2). [7]

In this self-contradicting statement in Bible, Isaac has been mentioned as the ‘only son,’ while the reality is that Isaac was at no time of his life Abraham’s ‘only son.’ The ‘only son’ was Ishmael who was, as mentioned before, thirteen or fourteen years older than Isaac. It is clear from the Bible and the Holy Quran that the incident took place when the son was able to do some work along with the father. It sets the age of the child at the time of the incident at about twelve years. And it was Ishmael who was the ‘only son’ of Abraham up to the age of twelve as Isaac was not yet born. However, after this incident God gave glad tidings about the birth of Isaac. The Holy Quran soon after describing the incident of the sacrifice says, “And we gave him the glad tidings of Isaac, a prophet, and one of the righteous.” [8] Not only Genesis 22:2 but Genesis 22:12 as well as Genesis 22:16 mention that this honor belonged to the ‘only son.’

A year after this sacrifice, when Abraham was hundred years old, Isaac was born. The Holy Quran quotes Sarah about her and Abraham’s age when she heard of the prophecy about birth of Isaac, “She said, ‘Oh, woe is me! Shall I bear a child when I am an old woman, and this my husband is an old man? This is indeed a strange thing!’” [9]

The Genesis also tells us that the son offered as sacrifice was not a baby . [10] He in fact carried the wood of the burnt offering on his head. At the time of sacrifice Abraham was ninety-nine years old and the only son he had at that time was Ishmael.

The Christian apologists allege that Hagar was not a lawful wife of Abraham, so some how Ishmael was not lawful son of Abraham. But the fact of the matter is that she belonged to the Egyptian royal family and the Bible itself laughs in their face when Ishmael has repeatedly been mentioned in the Bible as Abraham’s son, exactly as Isaac has been mentioned as his son (Gen. 16:16; 17:23,25). Additionally, Bible calls Hagar a lawful wife of Abraham, “Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” [11]

Moreover, analogous promises were made to Abraham in regard to the future greatness of Ishmael as were made to him about Isaac. The Bible says, “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” (Gen. 17:20). And about Hagar we read, “Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’ And the Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction.’” (Gen. 16:10-11). Once one diffuses the lame excuses of the Christian apologists that Ishmael was not the rightful progeny of Abraham it becomes amply clear that the son to be sacrificed was the ‘only son,’ Ishmael.

It seems that the interpolators of the Bible have substituted two words to steal the credit from Ishmael and give it to Isaac. Daud A Hanif, Missionary In charge for USA writes in his article

Prophets of Godin the second volume of Muslim Sunrise of 2003, “It seems that the writers of the Bible, while claiming credit of sacrifice, have deliberately changed Isaac with Ishmael, and Moriah for Marwah, a hillock in the vicinity of Mecca.” [12][13] So, apart from the substitution in the Bible of Isaac for Ishmael which seems to be deliberate, and of Moriah for Marwah, there is nothing in the Bible to lend the slightest support to the view that Abraham offered Isaac for sacrifice and not Ishmael.


God made many promises to the Patriarch Abraham. He was born in Ur; from there he migrated with his father to Canaan. His father stopped on the way at Haran and died there. On his father’s death, Abraham was commanded by God to leave Haran and go to Canaan and had the following revelation:

“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you; And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”” [14]


“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” [15]

And again:

“And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’” [16]

We find in the Bible that circumcision was an external mark of the covenant with Abraham and Ishmael was definitely circumcised. To understand this and a lot more one should read the brief chapter number 17 of Genesis in its entirety; the verses 19 and 21 which seem to deny, the promise to Ishmael and as such contradict other portions of the Old Testament, have been taken out and their place indicated to maintain a clear flow of the subject:

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’ Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as 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 child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.’ Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!’ … And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. … Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And

Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.” [17]

From these quotations it is obvious that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, Ishmael being the elder and Isaac the younger. God promised Abraham that He would multiply and bless his progeny. The promise applies to both Isaac and Ishmael, as is evident from the reading of chapter 17 of Genesis above. In the Bible in the mention about Ishmael, in between negative insinuations there is repeated mention that he was son of Abraham, that his father loved him and that God especially favored him as he was growing up:

“The child (Isaac) grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.’

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.But God said to him, ‘Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, … I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also,because he is your offspring.’ Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.God was with the boy as he grew up.He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.” [18]

The land of Canaan was given over to the sons of Abraham, and the external sign of the covenant which God made with Abraham was circumcision of all males. All these promises were fulfilled. The progeny of Isaac multiplied exceedingly. From among them arose the Prophets, Moses, David, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jesus. For two thousand years they ruled over Canaan. Their hold on it was never really abolished, though for a short time it became weak until the advent of Islam and then the Muslims that is the Ishmaelites had control of the Canaan or the Promised Land until the recent creation of Israel.


And remember when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands which he fulfilled. He said, ‘I will make you a Leader of men.’ Abraham asked, ‘And from among my offspring?’ He said, ‘My covenant does not embrace the transgressors.’” (Al Quran 2:125)

This verse of the Holy Quran summarizes in a nutshell the chronology of the salient events of the life of Abraham as is explained in this section. He was seventy-five years old when God commanded him for migration. He journeyed from Ur (Mesopotamia) to Harran and from there to Canaan. Abraham was eighty-five when he married Hagar; and he was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him. [19]

According to the Holy Quran Allah tried Abraham with certain commands before giving him the covenant, as is said, “And remember when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands which he fulfilled. He said, ‘I will make you a Leader of men.’ Abraham asked, ‘And from among my offspring?’ He said, ‘My covenant does not embrace the transgressors.’” [20] This will imply that the sacrifice took place before the covenant and before the circumcision as described in Chapter 17 of Genesis quoted above. According to Bible Abraham was 99 years old at the time of his and Ishmael’s circumcision. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. [21] If the time of sacrifice was before the circumcision as the Holy Quran states then the case is sealed in favor of Ishmael. The group circumcision is described in the chapter 17 of the Bible and it is in Chapter 18 of Genesis that the promise of Isaac is given:

“Then the LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD?’” [22]

However, the Bible does not talk about the sacrifice until Genesis 22. The words used for this trial are similar to the Holy Quran, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied.” The Quranic chronology is much more logical that God tried him and when he passed the trial, gave him the covenant and made circumcision an external marker for the covenant. In the Biblical chronology the cart is before the horse. The covenant has been settled and agreed and then God chooses to try Abraham!


When we contrast the story of the Bible and the Holy Quran of the events close to sacrifice itself, it becomes apparent which one is the literal word of God and which one is in keeping with the temperament of a prophet of God. In the Holy Quran we read, “When the boy (Ishmael) began to run about with him, Abra­ham said to him: Son, I have seen in my dream that I am slaughtering you. So con­sider what thou thinkest of it. The boy replied: Father, do what thou art com­manded; thou wilt find me, if Allah please, steadfast. When both were ready to sub­mit to Allah’s will, and he had thrown him down on his forehead, We called to him: Abraham, thou hast indeed fulfilled the dream.” [23] These verses speak of a loving relationship between the father and the son and the willingness of both to honor the words of God.

The mention in the Genesis in the Bible is, “My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” [24] Here the father is being deceptive to the son and has to use coercion to offer the sacrifice.

Whereas, the Quranic description is sublime and humane, demonstrating mutual love and respect between the father and the son, the Biblical hint of coercion and treachery in the sacrifice story, gives opportunity to the atheists to laugh at the issue. According to Richard Dawkins in his book

the God Delusion:

“Such unpleasant episodes in Abraham’s story are mere peccadilloes compared with the infamous tale of the sacrificing of his son Isaac (Muslim scripture tells the same story about Abraham’s other son, Ishmael). God ordered Abraham to make a burnt offering of his longed-for son. Abraham built an altar, put firewood upon it, and trussed Isaac up on top of the wood. His murdering knife was already in his hand when an angel dramatically intervened with the news of a last-minute change of plan: God was only joking after all, ‘tempting’ Abraham, and test­ing his faith. A modern moralist cannot help but wonder how a child could ever recover from such psychological trauma. By the standards of modern morality, this disgraceful story is an example simultaneously of child abuse, bullying in two asymmetrical power relationships, and the first recorded use of the Nuremberg defense: ‘I was only obeying orders.’ Yet the legend is one of the great foundational myths of all three monotheistic religions.” [25]

Dawkins’ criticism is ill founded as it was this sacrifice event and earlier the duel between the sons of Adam that are the root cause of the value of human life. It is precisely this even that has established the morality on this issue for billions of people including Dawkins’ ancestors. The ‘Law’ is in making, if you will! Secondly, Dawkins wrongfully attributes the details of the Biblical story to the Holy Quran also. He raises questions about the psychological impact on the child and bullying in the asymmetrical relationship that does not apply to the Quranic description at all. In the Quranic story Ishmael had consented in a very loving manner for the sacrifice. Thirdly, Dawkins brings out the Nuremberg trial. Andrew Conway Ivy (1893-1978) was appointed by the American Medical Association as its representative at the 1946 Nuremberg Medical Trial for Nazi doctors. He writes about origin of human morality in one of his articles:

“Only in a moral world, a world of responsibility, can man be free and live as a human being should. Men are truly equal and free only as creatures of God, because only as the children of God and only in the sight of God and ultimate moral law are men truly equal. If God and the ultimate moral law are denied, there can be no absolute argument against slavery, against ‘might makes right’ and man’s greedy exploitation of man. If human beings have no absolute intrinsic value, no absolute intrinsic freedom of decision, no absolute liberty, no absolute duties, they possess only extrinsic value and may be used as chattels, slaves or serfs by those who have the intelligence and power. Rights given to man by God can be taken away only by God, but rights given to man by man or man-made institutions can be denied or taken away by man or man-made institutions. Unless inalienable rights come from the Ultimate, from the Creator, it is irrational to say that human beings have rights which no man-­made institution may ignore or deny. Man has no absolute claim of intrinsic worth and dignity, no absolute duties and responsibilities, except as a creature of God.” [26]

For Dawkins to criticize the very source of the inalienable rights that he enjoys is to cut the very branch that he is sitting on. Andrew Conway Ivy argues that intrinsic worth of human life does not lie in the ramblings of fundamentalist atheists but in divine law:

“In the absence of a belief in the intrinsic worth and dignity of the individual, moral enormities and atrocities occur, and are justified by the doctrine of ‘superior orders’ and the doctrine that the welfare of the State is the supreme good and end, and that the end justifies any means. This was the dilemma at Nuremberg. How could the Nazi leaders and doctors who were responsible for the atrocities be indicted and convicted when they were obeying Nazi law and orders? They could be indicted and convicted only under the Eternal Natural Law of God, called in condescension to the atheistic Russian representatives the Laws of Humanity. If man-made law is the sole source of basic human rights, why condemn the Nazi assault on Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and politi­cal enemies? Why condemn the assault on the Hungarian Patriots? Under Nazi laws Jews had no rights. Under Red Communist laws the Hungarian Patriots had no rights. Under the communist governments behind the ‘iron curtain’ no human being has inalienable rights. If inalienable rights exist, what made them inalienable? If man did not create the world, how can he delegate to himself the creation of his worth, dignity, rights, duties, freedom of choice, and liberty? You always get into a causal chain which leads to God.” [27]

Dawkins is looking at it in the present day context not in the social milieu of 2000 BC. It was monotheism that assigned human dignity for children as well as for the grown ups, otherwise human sacrifice was in vogue to please different Gods and human life did not have any intrinsic value. This dream of Abraham and subsequent sacrifice of a lamb was an effective design of God to put an end to human sacrifice that were common in many societies even in the eighth century of the common era. It was Islam that put an end to human sacrifice of young brides that were thrown in Nile in Egypt.

In reality, Abraham was not required to fulfill his vision in the literal sense. It was only a practical demonstration of his intention and preparedness to sacrifice his son which was desired of him. The vision had already symbolically been fulfilled in Hagar and Ishmael having been left by Abraham in the valley of Mecca, a land of arid and barren waste. That brave act had, in fact, symbolized the sacrifice of Ishmael. The other purpose of the divine command to Abraham first to sacrifice his son, and then to abstain from it, was to abolish human sacrifice, a most inhuman practice prevalent among most nations at the time.


In the religious ceremonies of the Jews and the Christians, no trace of the supposed sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham is found. Muslims, who are the spiritual descendants of Ishmael, commemorate with great fervor his intended sacrifice, by slaughtering every year rams and goats all over the world on the tenth day of the Muslim month of Dhul-Hijjah. This universal sacrifice of quadruplets by Muslims, at the time of Hajj, establishes the fact that it was Ishmael and not Isaac whom Abraham offered for sacrifice. The early Jews had no reason to celebrate sacrifice of Isaac as it did not happen. Later day scribes inserted these details in the Bible for Isaac; but as in any forgery or crime they left many clues at the crime scene. Some of these have been pointed out in the apparent contradictions of the biblical account and we pray to God that additional clues may be revealed in the study of Dead Sea Scrolls and the banned books of the Bible.


So, what is the big deal whether it was Ishmael or Isaac, who was offered for sacrifice? If it were only a matter of history perhaps we would have ignored these details; but it continues to be a burning issue for the present and foreseeable future. What is at stake is the religious future of the world and how the promise of Allah to Abraham would be fulfilled in our times! Would it be fulfilled through the spiritual progeny of Ishmael or that of Isaac? That is the burning question? One clue is immediately apparent. Circumcision was to be the external marker of the covenant with Abraham so those who have shied away from it are not the recipients of this God’s grace. The first Christian Church Council in Jerusalem, held in approximately 50 AD decreed that circumcision was not a requirement for Gentile converts. This became known as the ‘Apostolic Decree’ and is one of the first acts differentiating early Christianity from Rabbinic Judaism. The Coptic Christians continue to practice circumcision. Once one moves away from the twisted logic that Ishmael was not heir to Abraham, then it becomes immediately obvious that he was the son intended to be sacrificed as the Old Testament mentions three times that the ‘only son,’ was to be sacrificed. Khalifatul Masih II, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad rawrites in his book

Muhammad in the Bible:

“After the seventh century A.D., however, the sons of Isaac, and those who observed the letter of the Law of Moses had to withdraw from Canaan. The sons of Ishmael, instead, became its political as well as its spiritual leaders. The fact that the sons of Israel had to surrender the land of Canaan shows that they had become unworthy of the promise which God had made to them through Abraham. This promise was that Israel would remain in possession of this land until the Last Day, and the promise was true. The Last Day in the divine promise, therefore, cannot mean the day which is to mark the end of the world, but the day on which the Law of Moses was to be superseded by the promulgation of a new Law for the guidance of the world. In the language of divine revelation the advent of a new Law is often described as the birth of a new heaven and a new earth.”

In the Holy Quran it is stated, “And We have already written in the Book of David, after the Reminder, that My righteous servants will inherit the (Promised) land.” [28] Here the reference in the words, ‘in the book of David’ is to Psalms 37:9,11:22 & 29. Khalifatul Masih II continues his description in the context of this verse of the Holy Quran:

“Therefore, when the prophecy said that the sons of Israel would retain their hold over Canaan until the Last Day, it meant that their hold would continue until the advent of a new Law-giving Prophet. In the utterances of David we have a hint of this meaning of the prophecy. The promise contained in Genesis that Israel would retain possession of Canaan until the Last Day is expressed differently. Thus in Psalms (37:29) we read:

The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.

The promise of eternal possession is not for Israel as such but for the righteous. This utterance of David, in fact, was a clear warning that the days of Israel’s dominance were numbered. The Prophet seemed to point out that the divine promise, after a time, was to be understood not in a racial but in a spiritual sense; that the sons of Ishmael were going to inherit the promises made to Abraham by inheriting the truth and a new covenant was going to be initiated through them. If our interpretation of the prophecy is not correct, then the question is, Why did God make the sons of Ishmael—and believers in the Message of the Quran—dominant in Palestine? The prophecy was quite clear. The sons of Isaac were to hold Palestine until the Last Day. The question is, Why did they not? Why did God allow a transfer of political power from the sons of Isaac to the sons of Ishmael?” [29]

Muslims retained the control over the Holy land for almost thirteen hundred years before the creation of state of Israel. This historic fact is strong evidence that the promise to Abraham has now moved to the house of Ishmael. The state of Israel has been created in accordance with another Quranic prophecy and is the exception rather than the rule. [30] Khalifatul Masih II concludes the chapter titled,

God’s Promise to Abrahamin the bookMuhammad in the Biblewith the following words:

“In short, the prophecy of Abraham promised blessings to both Isaac and Ishmael. According to this promise, the sons of Isaac were established over Canaan and the sons of Ishmael over Arabia. But when the Last Day arrived for the sons of Isaac, then, in terms of the prophecy of David, the promise was transferred from Israel to Ishmael. The claim of Israel was now only a racial claim. The claim of Ishmael was spiritual.” [31]

To read the whole of the book go to the following link:

The Holy Quran highlights that it was promised in the very beginning that the covenant to Abraham will not apply to those who are not righteous, “And remember when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands which he fulfilled. He said, ‘I will make you a Leader of men.’ Abraham asked, ‘And from among my offspring?’ He said, ‘My covenant does not embrace the transgressors.’” [32]

God’s promise is for the ‘righteous’ only and it may not applyto the present day Jewish, the Christian or the Muslim inhabitants of thecurrent Israel, West Bank and Gaza. Israel certainly has the military and political superiority. But, on whose side is God in the present struggle? The Quranic promise is mentioned in the following verses but the key issue is accurate commentary and understanding of the following verses, in light of all, which has been shared in this google-knol:

And already have We (Allah) written in the Book

of David, after the exhortation that My righteous servants shall inherit the land. Herein, surely, is a message for people who worshipGod. And We have sent thee (Muhammad) not but as a mercy for all peoples. (Al Quran 21:106-108)

[1] Al Quran 37:103.


[3] Genesis 15:2-5.

[4] Genesis 16:10,11.

[5] Genesis 16:15-16.

[6] Genesis 17:15-20.

[7] Genesis 22:2.

[8] Al Quran 37:113.

[9] Al Quran 11:73.

[10] Genesis 22:6.

[11] Genesis 16:3.



[14] Genesis 12:2-3.

[15] Genesis 22:17-18.

[16] Genesis 13:14-17.

[17] Genesis chapter 17 in its entirety minus verse 19 and 21.

[18] Genesis 21:8-21.

[19] Genesis 16:15-16.

[20] Al Quran 2:125.

[21] Genesis 21:5.

[22] Genesis 18:10-14.

[23] Al Quran 37:103-106.

[24] Genesis 22:8-11.

[25] Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. Page 242.

[26] The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe. Edited by John Clover Monsma. GP Putnam’s sons, New Yrok, published in 1958. Page 240.

[27] The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe. Edited by John Clover Monsma. GP Putnam’s sons, New Yrok, published in 1958. Page 241.

[28] Al Quran 21:106.

[29] Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad. Muhammad in the Bible. Islam International Publications Ltd, 2003. Page 9-10.

[30] Al Quran 17:105.

[31] Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad. Muhammad in the Bible. Islam International Publications Ltd, 2003. Page 10.

[32] Al Quran 2:125.


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  1. Zia Shah

    Prophecies about the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the Bible
    If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.John 15:26-27When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.John 16:12-14I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (John 14:15-16)

  2. Zia Shah

    Muslims for Peace — This is a website describing the political and social philosophy of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:Love for all and hatred for none.

  3. Zia Shah

    Prophecies about the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the Bible — The Holy Quran mentions these prophecies more than once. For example:Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet, the Immaculate one, whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel which are with them. He enjoins on them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful for them the good things and forbids them the bad, and removes from them their burden and the shackles that were upon them. So those who shall believe in him, and honor and support him, and help him, and follow the light that has been sent down with him — these shall prosper.’ (Al Quran 7:158)There are several prophecies in the Bible. A few will be mentioned in this Knol and some other knols linked.The Muslims believe that the Parable of the Tenants, mentioned in Matthew 21 is about the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him. The Muslim interpretation of these verses is intellectually most satisfying than other interpretations. The text of the Bible from New International Version:Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures, the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed. (Matthew 21:33-44)Here, Jesus, may peace be on him, has briefly narrated the history of religion in its totality. Landlord is Allah and vineyard is this world. By his servants are meant the prophets of God, who come to inspire people towards righteousness and that is expressed by landlord’s share of the fruit. By landlord’s son is implied the prophet Jesus himself in a metaphorical sense and he was put on the cross even though he survived and did not die on the cross, but that is not the subject here. The stone that was rejected signifies Israelites here as they were looked down upon by the tribes of Israel or children of Isaac. The Israelites becoming the capstone is evident by the observation that the best and the seal of the prophets, Muhammad came among them. The dramatic victories of Islam over the Persian and the Roman Empire, soon after the time of the Prophet Muhammad are prophecied in the last part of the above excerpt.Another prophecy about the Prophet Muhammad is in the Gospel according to John. Here I have to quote King James version, as in New International Version, the translation has been muddled to deny the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad: And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? (John 1:19-22)In other words the Jews at that time were expecting three prophets, Christ, Elias and ‘that Prophet.’ The term ‘that Prophet,’ is applicable to the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him.Two additional Knols by other authors on this subject:

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