Ishmael and Isaac in the Bible: A Response to a Christian’s Objections, Part Seven
This article is a continuation of our discussion with a Christian from the IslamiCity Discussion Forumon the inconsistencies and contradictions of the Biblical story of Ishmael and Isaac. In his new reply, the Christian started as usual, by resorting to personal attacks. We will be ignoring such parts of his reply and concentrate on the parts where he still at least tries to offer some sort of substantive rebuttal.
“The Koran is the first Holy book for Muslims. However, it is the Koran that is very vague and omits any promises giving to Ishmael through Abraham, not the Bible. Muslims claim Muhammad as a descendant of Ishmael. The scriptures on the other hand are very clear on who will carry on Abraham’s legacy and who will fight against it.”
We have already dealt with this issue. There is no need to repeat what has already been stated. However, we can add that the Quran does not state that Allah (swt) made promises with certain people, while neglecting others, as the Bible claims. Moreover, if the Christian could be bothered to do some honest research, he would know that the Quran does indeed state that Allah (swt) made a covenant with Ibrahim and Ishmael, just as He made a covenant with Isaac (peace be upon them):
“Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Ishmael, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).”
Next, he stated:
“In his first blog “The Islamic story” Ishmael name IS NOT MENTIONED as a child of sacrifice by Abraham in both the Bible and the Koran. So what is the Muslim community’s opinion since no name is mentioned? It is divided so they blame the Bible for allegedly being corrupted. But, why isn’t it clear in the Koran since it is clear in the Bible that Isaac was the ‘only son’ of ABRAHAM and SARAH and that Ishmael was disowned and dismissed also making Isaac the only son in his household and of sacrifice? Are Muslims trying to guess and distract this account away? Does it take the emotional whim of Islamic commentators to write the wrong of the Koran for leaving it out? THIS IS A MAJOR BLONDER [sic]! After providing conclusive evidence of Islamic scholars saying that it was indeed Isaac, what was the response?”
In this incoherent diatribe, we can see a not too infrequent aspect of Christian apologetics, namely the mindless repetition of poor arguments and an inability to admit that one is mistaken. We showed in our previous responses that the context of the Quranic story proves that the child of sacrifice was Ishmael (peace be upon him). The Christian never responded. We showed that the traditions that the Christian plagiarized were deceptively quoted and that the same scholars who related traditions about Isaac also related separate traditions about Ishmael (peace be upon them). We also showed that the traditions about Isaac can be traced back to one specific individual, who relied on Jewish and Christian traditions. The Christian never responded. We pointed out the contradictions in the Biblical story. The Christian has either tried to avoid these contradictions and or has offered absurd and unsupported theories.
Next, the Christian stated (emphasis in the original):
“He say’s [sic] a vast majority. Well, faith minded people all over the world find it amazing that Muhammad or the Koran had not stated it, only the commentators who came after the messenger! Did the angel recite to them as well? This is his first blog and his first line defense to disprove the “Biblical Story’ of Isaac being the only son of Abraham by Sarah and the only son in Abraham’s household to be offered up.”
As we have already stated several times, it is not a problem for Muslims whether Ishmael was the child of sacrifice or Isaac (peace be upon them). The Christian seems unable to understand this. What he also fails to realize is that pontificating on what the Quran says does nothing to eliminate the contradictions in the Bible, which is the main issue here.
To further prove our assertion that it has been the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars that the child of sacrifice was Ishmael (peace be upon him), let us quote the famous commentator Ibn Kathir (emphasis ours):
“Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Amir Ash-Sha`bi, Yusuf bin Mihran, Mujahid, `Ata’ and others reported from Ibn `Abbas that it was Isma`il, peace be upon him. Ibn Jarirnarrated that Ibn `Abbas said, “The one who was ransomed was Isma`il, peace be upon him. The Jews claimed that it was Ishaq, but the Jews lied.” It was reported that Ibn `Umar said, “The sacrifice was Isma`il.” Ibn Abi Najih said, narrating from Mujahid, “It was Isma`il, peace be upon him.” This was also the view of Yusuf bin Mihran. Ash-Sha`bi said, “It was Isma`il, peace be upon him, and I saw the horns of the ram in the Ka`bah.” Muhammad bin Ishaqreported from Al-Hasan bin Dinar and `Amr bin `Ubayd from Al-Hasan Al-Basri that he did not doubt that the one of the two sons Ibrahim was commanded to sacrifice was Isma`il, peace be upon him. Ibn Ishaq said, “I heard Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi say, `The one whom Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice of his two sons was Isma`il.’ We find this in the Book of Allah, because when Allah finishes the story of the one of the two sons of Ibrahim who was to be sacrificed, He then says: (And We gave him the glad tidings of Ishaq — a Prophet from the righteous)…”
As we can see, the traditions regarding Ishmael (peace be upon him) are numerous. In fact, even in Tabari’s history, they are more numerous than those regarding Isaac. Tabari mentions that 23 scholars named Ishmael as the child of sacrifice, while 16 named Isaac (peace be upon them all).
However, what is most important is what the Quran itself says. The Christian has yet to respond to our proofs from the Quran that show clearly that the child was Ishmael (peace be upon him). Instead, in an unprofessional and ranting fashion, he plagiarizes material from deceptive missionaries who don’t even provide all the information.
Next, the Christian attempted to respond to our original article, where we stated that the ahadith state that Ishmael (peace be upon him) was a very young child when he was sent out with his mother into the desert. He stated:
“The Hadiths, why wasn’t the Koran clear on? So, another source outside has to be used because of the Koran manipulation of the Biblical account, not having any time frame or location as does the Bible.”
Notice the attempt to distract from the main issue. What does it matter to the Christian which Islamic source is used? Muslims rely on the Quran and the authentic ahadith. The Christian’s personal opinions are irrelevant.
In any case, we have presented evidence that the Bible contradicts itself on the age of Ishmael when he was sent out with his mother. Unable to refute this evidence, the Christian has since been avoiding this subject like the plague, until now. Let us see if he has any practical response to make. He stated:
“Right from the start how do we know Ishmael was already a teenager?
Gen 17:24, 25 Abraham was 99 years old when he had the flesh of his foreskin circumcised. And Ish′ma·el his son was 13 years old when he had the flesh of his foreskin circumcised.
What happened five years after that? Let’s do the math.
Gen 21:8, 9 Now the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham prepared a big feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah kept noticing that the son of Ha′gar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, was mocking Isaac
In providing the detail, Ishmael was nineteen yrs. old! The Koran conveniently left out these important details. But, why is a nineteen yr. old young man bullying his little brother? We can began to see exactly why Hagar and Ishmael was legally dismissed and disowned personally by Elohim, leaving Isaac as the “only son” left behind with his natural parents Abraham and Sarah.”
As can be seen from this disappointing response, the Christian simply repeated what we have already stated. It is obvious that we can calculate Ishmael’s age based on the Genesis story. But that’s not the problem! The problem is that while Ishmael is supposedly a teenager, the text refers to him as a child! The Christian originally attempted to respond to the linguistic difficulties concerning the word “hay-ye-led”. We showed irrefutable evidence that the word means nothing else than a “young child”. Has the Christian already forgotten?
Moreover, the above claims made by the Christian are rife with inaccuracies and deception. He tries to make Ishmael even older than he was supposed to be. Now he claims that Ishmael was 19 years old, even though the chronology of the story does not allow this. As we will shortly see, the motive for the Christian’s deception is obvious. But first, let us check the Christian’s math. Genesis 17 does tell us that the “Covenant of Circumcision” was made when Abraham was 99 years old. This would make Ishmael 13 years old at the time, since he was born when Abraham was 86 years old. Up to this point, the Christian’s math is correct. However, the rest of it is pathetically skewed. The Christian claimed that the event of Hagar and Ishmael’s exile occurred five years later. We have to ask how the Christian came to this conclusion. The text clear states that Isaac was born when Abraham 100 years old. It also states that when Isaac was weaned, which occurs when a child is two years old, Hagar and Ishmael were sent out. Hence, Abraham was 102 years old. So, yes, let do the math to determine Ishmael’s age (represented by x):
102 – 86 = x, x = 16.
Hence, Ishmael was at most 16 years old, not 19 years old! Since we have to assume that the Christian has enough education to do simple math, then the only conclusion as to how he bungled the math is that it was a deliberate act of deception. By making Ishmael even older, the Christian can make his case that Ishmael’s alleged “mocking” of the baby Isaac made Ishmael culpable, since a 19-year old would be held accountable for his actions. But, as we just showed, Ishmael was only 16 years old. Even if we acknowledge that a 16-year old would be held accountable for his actions, how does Ishmael’s mocking justify his exile from the family and being cut-off by God? As we pointed out in Part 6, the so-called “chosen” ones, like Isaac and Jacob, exhibited shameful behavior, including cowardice, deception and blackmail! As has become customary with our Christian critic, he completely ignored this point and did not respond to it.
Moreover, if Ishmael was 16 years old, then why he described as “hay-ye-led”, which means “young child”? How can a supposedly “inspired” text have such obvious contradictions (obvious at least to those with eyes to see)?
Next, the Christian stated:
“Because the Koran intentionally omitted these details to promote Islam and Muhammad as its messenger. Does the koran say Ishmael was the son that was going to be sacrificed? Of course not it changed the whole story around and left things out. Surely that would have given the koran’s account some sort of credibility, at least to start off with but it doesn’t. So, to distract its followers from knowing the truth, let’s distort the Genesis account by changing the names and say the Bible is corrupted. Why? Base on the Ahmed Deedat syndrome, here it is once again . . .”
Again, we see nothing more than childish rants. The Christian has yet to respond to the evidence we showed from the Quran that Ishmael (peace be upon him) was indeed the child of sacrifice. Instead of responding to the evidence, he rants about disagreements among some scholars and completely ignores the fact that the majority opinion is that it was Ishmael. He also fails to understand that the problem is not with the Quran. The problem is with the Bible, and he has done an incredibly poor job at defending the book he calls “scripture”.
The Christian then stated:
“The Bible as I have shown above shows Ishmael to be a teenager (Gen 17:24, 25) Why does the Koran need Islamic sources to prove that he was not a teenager, was it recited to Muhammad or to them? Is it because the Koran lacks sufficient logical evidence? Because of your lack of research this and your remaining blogs went downhill from there. How does he conclude this blog?”
It is ironic that the Christian accuses us of not doing enough research, yet as we have seen thus far, the Christian’s own “research” has been limited to plagiarism and Google searches. On the other hand, we have provided evidence from scholarly sources which completely debunk the Genesis story and expose the contradictions within it. For it is not simply the Islamic sources which show that Ishmael was not a teenager (but a very young child), when he sent out with his mother, it is the Bible itself. The Bible contradicts itself by claiming that Ishmael was 16-years old (not 19), but then describing him as a young child. The reason for this discrepancy is due to the editing of the Genesis story, and we have provided evidence for this.
Next, he stated:
“Contradictions according to who, the Hadiths? All I can say is ignorance is bliss, especially since the Koran is a book for Muslims and Muhammad is its [messenger.] Yet it is silent on the most fundamental teachings of Abraham inheritance to a promised miracle son. But, it does draws attention to the way Islamic commentators defend their beliefs. They take a narcissistic approach, if it’s not spelled out in a way they think it should be spelled out or explained in the Koran or Hadith the Bible is wrong. Here’s another example . . .”
Indeed, ignorance certainly is bliss, and the Christian has exhibited an abhorrent amount of ignorance. Of course, personal attacks will do nothing to remove the contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible.
The Christian then stated:
“And for this reason it is false? This is pretty much the same approach as Ahmed Deedat and other would be debaters and apologetics. As you can see, they have a very, very, very strong sense of personal preference on how verses in the Bible are supposed to be written since they disagree with it. How self-centered and self-indulgent is that approach to the Holy Scriptures? Yet, the Koran has failed and fallen short on the account of Abraham promises and blessings through Isaac, Jacob and eventually Jesus, the promised seed and messiah. Obviously, this would be the first and foremost mistake of anyone whose faith is based on a shaky foundation as the Koran and those who supposedly were used by Allah to establish it.
This brings us to the phrase that was used; “common sense.” Since Muslims grossly MIS-Understand and thus in turn MIS-Interpret the term ‘only son’ it is in their altered ego the scriptures are corrupted. Let us go into it further by discussing Isaac’s unique position and why he is singled out not only in the Bible but believe it or not also in the Koran.”
This was in response to our point that the phrase “only son” does not mean “only son through Sarah”, which is what the Christian was claiming using nothing but his own opinions. Instead of offering a reasoned response, the Christian again childishly went off on a tirade, coming back to Sheik Ahmed Deedat! Why is he so obsessed with Deedat? And how do his childish rants do any justice to the Bible? If this is the best he can offer in terms of a reasoned response, we invite some other Christian to take his place since he is doing a horrible job of defending your Bible.
Notice that the Christian has yet to provide any support for his claim. The best he can do to support his own opinion is to say that it is “common sense”. Contrary to his opinion, common sense would dictate that the phrase “only son” is contradictory and makes no sense whatsoever since Abraham had two sons. The Christian wants to take a leap of faith to protect the Bible by theorizing that the phrase “only son” actually meant “only son through Sarah”, even though we pointed out how completely unnecessary it would have been to say that to Abraham. Surely, Abraham already knew that he only had one son through Sarah and did not need to be reminded!
He then stated:
“In the scriptures a conversation was addressed to Abraham that a promised child would be born to Sarah through a miracle birth; let’s examine both the Bible and Koran to see who the promised son was; not sons of Abraham but the promised SON of Abraham.
Gen. 17:15, 16 Then God said to Abraham: “As for your wife Sar′ai, you must not call her Sar′ai, because Sarah will become her name. I will bless her and also give you a [son] by her; I will bless her and she will become nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Gen 18: 9-15
Compare Surah 11:69-73, 37:112-113, 51:24-30.
Perhaps someone can tell me where Ishmael is singled out as a promised son and born through a miracle birth?
Isaac’s and Isaac’s descendants would inherit an inheritance that was given to Abraham; Ishmael would not receive any of the inheritance given to Abraham. Gen 13:14-18 15:18-21 28:13, 14!”
Here we see the pettiness of the Christian’s theology. Apparently, in his mind, if God made a promise about a child’s birth, this somehow made that child more superior to others. But as we have pointed out, the Quranic view is not petty. The Quranic view is very clear:
“Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).””
“We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.”
Moreover, as we previously showed, Ishmael’s birth was no less important, as he was born when Allah (swt) answered Ibrahim’s prayer for a son. This can be deduced from the meaning of the name “Ishmael”, as Yusuf Ali noted in his commentary on Surah As-Saffat:
“The boy thus born was, according to Muslim tradition, the first-born son of Abraham, viz., Ismail. The name itself is from the root Samia, to hear, because Allah had heard Abraham’s prayer (verse 100).””
Ishmael (peace be upon him) was also greatly praised, as were all the prophets (including Isaac):
“And Ishmael and Elisha, and Jonas, and Lot: and to all We gave favour above the nations:”
“And commemorate Ishmael, Elisha, and Zul-Kifl: Each of them was of the Company of the Good.”
In addition, the Quran points to Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) prayer of thanks to Allah (swt) for granting him both his sons:
“”Praise be to Allah, Who hath granted unto me in old age Ishmael and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer!”
Next, the Christian stated:
“Perhaps someone can tell me where in the Koran is Ishmael and his descendants primarily singled out and lined up for future blessings? How did Ishmael handle this rejection? The animosity Ishmael had toward Isaac was handed down to his descendants; even to the extent of hating the God of Abraham in Psalms 83:2, 5-6. Muhammad claims to be a descendant of Ishmael. If I were you I would read this!”
So, the Christian finally acknowledged that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a descendant of Ishmael. Notice that he did not admit that his original contention that Muhammad (peace be upon him) never claimed to be Ishmael’s descendant was based on plagiarized material, nor did he admit that he was mistaken. This is an example of the vanity of some Christian apologists.
Anyway, he asked where in the Quran it is stated that “Ishmael and his descendants primarily singled out and lined up for future blessings”. First, we have to ask why someone who has obviously never read the Quran asking such silly questions, as if he knows something Muslims do not. Second, we have to ask whether he has carefully read our previous responses to him or whether he has a very short memory. The reason we ask is because this question has already been answered in a previous response. In Part 4, we referred to the Quran’s views on prophethood and Ibrahim and Ishmael’s prayer for a prophet to be sent to their people. Furthermore, Islamic teachings state that Allah (swt) chooses the righteous, regardless of their ancestry or their race, unlike the Bible which states that God chose Isaac and Jacob, despite their abhorrent sins, while leaving out the Gentile Ishmael for allegedly mocking Isaac.
The Christian then stated (emphasis in the original):
“Furthermore, the blessings that were given to Isaac were because of the promise by Elohim to Abraham and Sarah. As I explained earlier, because of Ishmael’s bullying Isaac Ishmael and Hagar was force to leave, being legally dismissed and disowned from the family and legally dismissed from ALL of Abraham’s inheritance, thus the term ‘only son’ would also be applied here. In fact, when this statement was first uttered in Genesis 22:2, it was AFTERIshmael was DISOWNED, BANNED and no longer legally part of the family. The Koran agrees with this fact as well because Ishmael’s only return was to bury his father. There is no record of Ishmael being buried in the cave of Machpelah, the place of burial for Abraham and Isaac, along with their wives.”
We already refuted this nonsensical argument in Part 3. In addition, we denounce the Christian for insulting God by describing Him as a petty deity who chooses liars and deceivers on the one hand (the Biblical Isaac and Jacob) while “legally dismissing” others for much smaller crimes (Ishmael’s alleged “bullying” of Isaac). As Thomas Paine wrote (referring to the Old Testament):
“When we contemplate the immensity of that Being, who directs and governs the incomprehensible whole, of which the utmost ken of human sight can discover but a part, we ought to feel shame at calling such paltry stories the word of God.”
Next, he stated regarding the disagreement among Muslim scholars (emphasis in the original):
“SO THEY TO WERE UNDECIDED, confused. But, of course to save face and having an emotional attachment to their belief rather than the TRUTH it seems they said both! Now, that’s contradictory to say the least. But, that is the stand islamispeace has taken, it really doesn’t matter. Well, according to this scripture it does, read Psalms 83:2, 5-6”
We can notice again the sly attempt to avoid admitting that he was mistaken due to his shameless plagiarism, and now making a new argument based on twisted logic. Originally, the Christian had appealed to those scholars who believed that Isaac (peace be upon him) was the child of sacrifice, arguing that Tabari had mentioned many traditions which named Isaac. Only now when he finally realizes that his poor research has betrayed him does he reformulate his argument. Does he realize or admit (as we previously showed) that the traditions naming Isaac are based on unreliable sources? No. Does he acknowledge that the majority of scholars believed the child was Ishmael? No.
The irony is that right after acknowledging that the very same scholars who related traditions about Isaac also related traditions about Ishmael, the Christian hilariously appeals to the same exact traditions about Isaac (taken no doubt from the same plagiarized source)! He stated:
“Instead, of promoting TRUTH once again the fence is being straddled because of an emotional attachment to Islam. What are the sentiments of other Islamic scholars that also said it was Isaac?
According to Abu Kurayb – Ibn Yaman – Isra’il – Jabir – Ibn Sabit: He was Isaac.
According to Kurayb – Ibn Yaman – Sufyan – Abu Sinan al-Shaybani – Ibn Abi al-Hudhayl: The victim was Isaac.
According to Abu Kurayb – Sufyan b. ‘Uqbah – Hmaza al-Zayyat – Abu Ishaq – Abu Maysarah: Joseph told the king to his face, “You wish to eat with me when I, by God, am Joseph son of Jacob the prophet of God, son of Isaac the victim of God, son of Abraham the friend of God.”
According to Musa b. Harun – ‘Amr b. Hammad – Asbat – al-Suddi – Abu Malik and Abu Salih – Ibn ‘Abbas and Murrah al-Hamdani – Ibn Mas’ud and some of the companions of the Prophet: Abraham was instructed in a dream to “carry out your promise that if God granted you a son by Sarah you would sacrifice him.”
According to Ya’qub – Husahym – Zakariya’ and Shu’bah – Abu Ishaq – Masruq: When God said, “The We ransomed him with a tremendous victim,” that was Isaac.
The great Muslim commentator al-Baidawi also believed that the child of sacrifice was Isaac. In his comments on S. 12:46, al-Baidawi states:
As He perfected it formerly on thy fathers: by appointing them as messengers. Some say (that God perfected his blessing) on Abraham by taking him as a ‘friend’ (khalil) and by saving him from the fire (into which the unbelievers had cast him), and (he perfected it) on Isaac by delivering him from the sacrifice and by ransoming him with a great victim (for the sacrifice) … (Helmut Gätje, The Qur’an and Its Exegesis [Oneworld Publications, Oxford 1996], p. 107; bold italic emphasis ours)
The nature of the Islamic traditions regarding the Sacrifice suggests that those locating the act in Syria and assuming Isaac to have been the intended victim WERE THE EARLIEST. The pre-Islamic association of Abraham with Mecca, however, naturally encouraged the growth of counter traditions positing the location of the Sacrifice in the sacred Islamic center. The fact that many traditions treating the first Abrahamic Pilgrimage exclude any mention of the Sacrifice lends credence to the view that the connection between the Abrahamic Sacrifice and the pre-Islamic pilgrimage sacrifice was a late (Islamic) development… (P. 149; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Further, the Bible’s superiority is once again demonstrated by virtue of the fact that it even mentions the site where these events took place, Mt. Moriah, the future site of the Solomonic Temple (cf. Gen. 22:2; 2 Chron. 3:1); whereas with the Quran we are not given even the slightest hint as to where this sacrifice was to take place. This has also caused controversy and confusion amongst Muslim scholars as they desperately try to figure this problem out.
I guess common sense isn’t so common these days after all. Let me now stress what was told to Hagar regarding her son although he would become a nation of people
Genesis 16:12 He will be a wild donkey of a man. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him, and he will dwell opposite all his brothers.” (I’ll get into that later)
What was told Sarah? Genesis 17:16 I will bless her and also give you a son by her; I will bless her and she will become nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
I stated in the outset, they need Ishmael to be the child of sacrifice instead of Isaac. Case and point . . .”
So, after he was called out for plagiarism, what does the Christian do? Well, he plagiarizes of course! Instead of doing honest research, the Christian continues to deceive himself by blindly copying from deceptive missionaries whose bias on the subject has already been exposed.
But if we are talking about the “earliest” traditions, then why does the Christian ignore Ibn Ishaq? According to Reuven Firestone:
“According to Ibn Ishaq’s tradition, Abraham commenced with the sacrifice of Ishmael on one of his daylong journeys from Syria to Mecca on the supernatural steed, Buraq.”
Firestone also makes an interesting observation on the traditions about Isaac, which he concludes were probably the “earliest”. He states:
“The nature of the Islamic traditions regarding the Sacrifice suggests that those locating the act in Syria and assuming Isaac to have been the intended victim were earliest. Early Muslims naturally turned to Biblicists for information regarding legends found both in the Quran and the Bible, and the traditions they learned that followed the biblical orientation of the Sacrifice in Syria clearly derived from a Biblicist milieu.”
This confirms what we have already stated. The traditions about Isaac were not based on any authentic statements going back to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but were rather derived from Biblical sources. It was for this reason that these traditions were later rejected.
Moreover, most of the traditions that Tabari mentioned put the sacrifice in Mecca, which contradicts the belief that the child was Isaac since he was never in Mecca, especially since Tabari’s personal view was that the sacrifice occurred in Syria. Firestone observes:
“Most of al-Tabari’s traditions, however, place the location of the Sacrifice in the area of Mecca.”
Finally, he notes that the Ishmael traditions were widely accepted even before Tabari:
“The battle between the two kinds of exegesis was probably won by the Mecca-Ishmael school even before the time of al-Tabari…”
The Christian’s blind plagiarism has betrayed him again.
Next, the Christian stated (emphasis in the original):
“We ALL saw the verses in the scriptures and what we both said about ‘only son’ but ultimately it’s what Elohim said and did in behalf of Isaac, nothing to do with faith. That in turn left Muslims still guessing and hoping that it was an error in the scriptures. This guessing has also caused them to believe that Elohim is a tribal God when in fact he’s not.”
So the Christian once again reverts to circular reasoning and special pleading, and that is all he really can do. He has no proof for his assertion that “only son” really meant “only son through Sarah”, so to “prove” his argument, he claims that “it’s what Elohim said…” that matters. But we don’t know what Elohim said, do we? That is what we are trying to figure out! In fact, from the evidence we have already seen, even the Biblicists did not agree as to “what Elohim said…” Case in point: the textual differences in the Aqedah as found in 4Q225 and the Septuagint.
The Christian then attempted to respond to our critique of the Bible’s depiction of a tribal god. He stated (emphasis in the original):
“It was through Abraham that Elohim said that ALL nations on the earth would be blessed through the promised seed. However, the promise was first made to Abraham, but ALL will benefit. We are ALL children of Abraham. So you’re incorrect again by saying ‘He’s just the God of Israel exclusively, the scriptures shows he is not.
Gen 12: 1-3 And Jehovah said to A′bram: “Go out from your land and away from your relatives and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will become a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who calls down evil on you, and all the families of the ground will certainly be blessed by means of you.
Why to Abraham? It’s what we have been discussing all along, because Abraham did not withhold his son. Gen 22:15-18.”
The Christian offered a typical argument, completely oblivious to the contradictions therein. First of all, our critique was precisely regarding the special “chosen” status of Abraham’s “children” through Isaac and Jacob only. We take offense at the claim of a god who choses people from a particular race only (and choosing liars and deceivers as well). Second, we have to question how all people are the “children of Abraham”. Are the Chinese and Japanese the “children of Abraham”? How could they be if they never even heard of Abraham until only quite recently? The Bible limits God’s chosen people to the Israelites only, so the rest of the world was left out. This is the very definition of a tribal deity.
Further evidence for this can be found in the Biblical story of the Exodus. As Louay Fatoohi astutely observes (emphasis in the original):
“The exclusive expressions ‘the God of Israel’ and the ‘God of the Hebrews’ are in complete contrast to how Moses described God to the Egyptian monarch in the Qur’an, calling Him the Lord of everything and everyone and the Lord of all peoples, including Pharaoh and his people….”
If we are all the “children of Abraham”, then why was the Biblical Moses so adamant on making God and the Israelites so closely linked? Why didn’t he describe God to be the “God of all”? Why didn’t he attempt to convert Pharaoh? Instead, the Bible claims that God sent Moses to force Pharaoh to liberate the Israelites and nothing more. In contrast, the Quran states that Musa (peace be upon him) not only went to liberate the Israelites but to convert the Egyptians. In fact, it relates the beautiful stories of the magicians, the wife of Pharaoh and another unnamed Egyptian who believed in Musa (peace be upon him) and accepted his message. These people rejected the pagan gods of Egypt and became monotheists.
The Christian then stated:
“Back to the subject at hand; in an effort to impress himself he brings attention to a quote in the Akedah-the binding of Isaac. Why did he do that, it only shows beyond the shadow of doubt that Abraham’s role was a fore gleam of what would happen centuries later, who he was about to sacrifice, and what it portrayed in the Gospel, read it for yourself. Here is a taste “ we understand the Akedah as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice…God’s son to make salvation to all who believe John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. Need I say more, I believe! I BELIEVE!!!! Do you? As you can see he is unable to use the Koran to add credibility to his argument because the Koran keeps everyone guessing which is what the objective is. No wonder the Muslim community is in the dark, undecided and divided on this matter.”
So now, he resorts to linking Isaac’s sacrifice to that of Jesus. Of course, such an argument is rife with contradictions as well. First and foremost, as Jews will readily point out:
“The Christian will say that God sacrificed His own son just as Abraham would have sacrificed his own son, had God allowed the act to be completed. But Abraham was sacrificing his son to God [to] show him that he loved God more than the love he had for his son, something that even God acknowledged in the text…”
Another contradiction in comparing the sacrifice of Isaac and that of Jesus is that the latter does not count as a legitimate sacrifice according to Jewish law:
“One of the reasons that the analogy of Jesus being a sacrifice for sins breaks down (and there are very many reasons why it doesn’t work) is that a sacrifice has to be offered on the altar – on the Temple mount, but Jesus was crucified, according to the New Testament, on Golgotha. Golgotha is not only outside the Temple mount, according to some reckonings it was outside the city walls – it wasn’t even in Jerusalem!”
So, the Christian may proudly state that he “believes”, but we would point out that blind belief will only lead to damnation.
Next, the Christian stated in response to the evidence of 4Q225 and canonicity of Genesis (emphasis in the original):
“Genesis, YES, you’re so called reliable sources like Aqedah, Jubilees and Pseudojubiless, definitely NOT! Re-check your history. These books are almost last on the food chain.”
In his incoherent ramblings, he does not even realize the utter foolishness of his remarks. He fails to realize that the “Aqedah” is the name given to the story of Isaac’s sacrifice. It is not the name of a non-canonical book! We urge the Christian to think before he writes.
Furthermore, we can note once again how the Christian completely ignored all the evidence presented. He has nothing to say regarding the differences between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint. He tries to deny the significance of 4Q225, which was an edited version of the Genesis story. Lastly, he ignores the plain fact that even his so-called “canonical” sources quoted from the “non-canonical” books and considered them to be scripture. Case in point: Jude 1:14 and the Book of Enoch! The Christian can ignore the evidence all he likes, but they will not go away. They will remain a thorn in the side of Christendom.
Next, he stated (emphasis in the original):
“The Ethiopian Orthodox Church and by Ethiopian Jews or the Church of Rome do NOT determine what is canonical and what is not. Jubilees which is called a lesser genesis is a RE-WRITING of Genesis and Exodus, you have to do better than that to discredit the account of Abraham. You are really, really looking pretty desperate now. The Book of Jubilees along with your other reliable sources as you know FAILED the standards of the “Canon of the Scriptures” There goes your Pseudepigraphawritings up in smoke. But, it does speak negatively about your in-depth research and how thorough you are in disproving your imagined contradictions and discrepancies.”
We can note here the self-contradictions in the Christian’s replies and an absolute refusal to admit the facts. In his previous response, he made the following claim:
“…in an even more desperate attempt he uses Jewish apocalyptic literature. Apocryphal and Pseudepigrapha (literally meaning ‘falsely attributed writings’) books that were never accepted as canonical as his primary reference tool.”
In response to this inaccurate statement, we pointed out that the Book of Jubilees is part of the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and of Ethiopian Jews. In response, he again resorted to special pleading, claiming that the views of the different churches do not “determine what is canonical and what is not”. Well, perhaps the Christian can enlighten us as to what does determine what is canonical and what is not?
Furthermore, the Christian keeps running from the plain fact that even his “canonical” sources quote from non-canonical books as “scripture”. Let us quote a few examples from one of our previous articles:
1. The Book of Jude (a canonical book) makes reference to the book of Enoch (an apocryphal book). Jude 1:14-15 states:
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
2. John 7:38 quotes an unknown source and refers to it as “scripture”:
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
3. Luke 11:49 quotes God from an unknown source:
“Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’”
4. James 4:5 quotes an unknown source and refers to it as “scripture”:
“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?”
Why does his scripture have so many contradictions? These contradictions are plain to anyone who has eyes to see. They are not “imagined”. Only the Christian’s views are imagined.
The Christian then stated:
“Unlike the Koran, many of the Bible writers confirm the authenticity of Genesis within its pages, even centuries later. The best example of this is that of ‘El Shaddai’ himself and Jesus Christ.
Genesis 26: 24 That night YHWH appeared to him (Isaac) and said: “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you, and I will bless you and multiply your offspring on account of Abraham my servant.”
Luke 24:44 He (Jesus) then said to them: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all the things written about me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac—the man who had gladly received the promises attempted to offer up his only-begotten son
As you can see, there is no need to use outside material to confirm or support the word of YHWH, archeology and secular history does a good job in doing that on its own. But when it comes to the Koran not only does the account of Abraham lacks clarity and conviction, the references that Islam uses to support its argument against the Bible were never included in the Jewish canon of inspired Scriptures and do not form part of it today.”
The irony in the Christian’s statement is self-evident. The examples we provided above serve to completely demolish his appeal to canonical scripture. We await a reasoned response as to why the books he regards as “canonical” quote non-canonical books as “scripture”. Ignorance truly must be bliss.
To close this rebuttal, let us once again list all the issues which the Christian keeps ignoring:
- The meaning of the Hebrew word “hay-ye-led” is “child”.
- The status of Hagar as a legitimate wife of Abraham.
- The absence of the story of Ishmael’s birth in the Dead Sea scroll 4Q225 (a clear attempt to eliminate the contradictory nature of the Biblical story).
- The promise/covenant with Isaac was made before Ishmael and Hagar were sent out but after the “covenant of circumcision”.
- The status of Ishmael as a legitimate son of Abraham and a member of his household even after the exile and at the time of the sacrifice.
- The Masoretic text of Genesis 22 is contradicted by the Septuagint and other translations.
- The evidence from the Quran and authentic ahadith show that the child of sacrifice was Ishmael (peace be upon him).
- God chose Isaac and Jacob, even though both exhibited shameful behavior. Isaac exhibited cowardice and deceit while Jacob exhibited blackmail and deceit. In contrast, Ishmael was supposedly “left out” because he mocked Isaac.
- The canonical books of the Bible quote from non-canonical sources as scripture.
And Allah knows best!
 Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:125.
 Genesis 16:16.
 Genesis 21:5.
 Surah Al-Baqara, 2:136 (Yusuf Ali Translation).
 Surah An-Nisa, 4:163.
 Surah Al-Anaam, 6:86.
 Surah Sad, 38:48.
 Surah Ibrahim, 14:39
 “The Age of Reason”, Ed. Moncure Daniel Conway, p. 32.
 “Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis”, p. 145.
 Ibid., p. 149.
 Ibid. p. 151.
 Ibid., p. 144.
 Ibid., p. 145. Ironically, a tradition related by al-Qummi claimed that the sacrifice took place in Mina but that the child was Isaac since he had made the pilgrimage with Sarah!
 Ibid., p. 151.
 “The Mystery of Israel in Ancient Egypt: The Exodus in the Qur’an, the Old Testament, Archaeological Finds, and Historical Sources”, p. 75.
 Exodus 3:10.
2 thoughts on “Response to a Christian About the Biblical Story of Ishmael and Isaac – Part Seven”
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The story of the prophets in the Quran is for Mahamati Prannath.
औलाद याकूब कहया इसहाक , इनों का कबीला है पाक |
“Jacob (or Imam Mahdi Mahamati Prannath) was the (godly) son of Issac (or Devchandra Mehta) whose tribe of followers has been said holy.”