Muhammad in the Bible
1. Both Ishmael and Isaac Were Blessed
M. Why did Ishmael and his mother Hagar leave Sarah?
m. After Isaac was weaned, his mother Sarah saw Ishmael mocking him and didn't want Ishmael to be heir with her son Isaac (Genesis 21:8-10): "And the child grew, and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham: 'Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac."'
M. Isaac was about two years old when he was weaned. Ishmael was then sixteen years, because Abraham was eighty six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael and was an hundred years old when Isaac was born, according to (Genesis 16:16): "And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram"; and (Genesis 21:5): "And Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born unto him". (Genesis 21:8-10) is then in contradiction with (Genesis 21:14-21), where Ishmael was portrayed as a baby put on the shoulder of his mother, called "lad" and "child," when both left Sarah: "And Abraham rose up early in the morning and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child ...'Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand ..."' This was the profile of a baby and not of a teenager. So Ishmael and his mother Hagar left Sarah long before Isaac was born. According to the Islamic version, Abraham took Ishmael and Hagar and made a new settlement in Makkah, called Paran in the Bible (Genesis 21:21), because of a divine instruction given to Abraham as a part of God's plan. Hagar ran seven times between two hills, Safa and Marwa, looking for water; this became then an Islamic ritual for the annual pilgrimage in Makkah by millions of Muslims from all around the world. The well of water mentioned in (Genesis 21:19) is still present, now called Zamzam. Both Abraham and Ishmael later built the Ka'bah in Makkah. The spot where Abraham used to perform prayers near the Ka'bah is still present, now called Maqam Ibrahim, i.e. the Station of Abraham. During the days of pilgrimage, pilgrims in Makkah and Muslims all over the world commemorate the offering of Abraham and Ishmael by slaughtering cattle.
m. But the Bible mentions Isaac to be sacrificed.
M. No, the Islamic version states that the covenant between God, Abraham, and his only son Ishmael was made and sealed when Ishmael was supposed to be sacrificed. And on the same day, were Abraham, Ishmael, and all men of the household circumcised, while Isaac was not even born yet (Genesis 17:24-27): "And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, 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. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him."
A year later, Isaac was born and circumcised when he was eight days old (Genesis 21:4-5): "And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him."
So when the covenant was made and sealed (circumcision and sacrifice) Abraham was ninety-nine and Ishmael was thirteen years old. Isaac was born a year later, when Abraham was an hundred years old.
The descendants of Ishmael, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) including all Muslims, remain faithful until today to this covenant of circumcision. In their prayers at least five times daily, the Muslims include the praise of Abraham and his descendants with the praise of Muhammad (pbuh) and his descendants.
m. But in (Genesis 22) it is mentioned that Isaac was to be sacrificed!
M. I know it, but you will see the contradiction there. It is mentioned there "thine only son Isaac." Should it not have been "thine only son Ishmael", when Ishmael was thirteen years old and Isaac not born yet? When Isaac was born, Abraham had two sons. Because of chauvinism, the name of Ishmael was changed to Isaac in all of (Genesis 22), but God had preserved the word "only" to show us what it should have been.
The words "I will multiply thy seed" in (Genesis 22:17) was applied earlier to Ishmael in (Genesis 16:10). Was the whole of (Genesis 22) not applicable to Ishmael then? "I will make him a great nation" had been repeated twice for Ishmael in (Genesis 17:20) and (Genesis 21:18), and never applied to Isaac at all.
m. The Jews and Christians maintain that Isaac was superior to Ishmael.
M. That is what they say but not what the Bible states (Genesis 15:4): "And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him [Abraham], saying: 'This [Eliezer of Damascus] shall not be thine heir, but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir."' So Ishmael was also heir.
(Genesis 16:10): "And the angel of the Lord said unto her [Hager]: 'I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. "'
(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."
(Genesis 21:13): "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."
(Genesis 21:18): "Arise, lift up the lad [Ishmael], and hold him in thine hand, for I will make him a great nation."
(Deuteronomy 21:15-17): "If a man have two wives, one beloved and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of the strength; the right of the firstborn is his." Islam does not deny God's blessings on Isaac and his descendants, but the son of promise is Ishmael, from whom later arose Muhammad (pbuh) as the Seal of all Prophets.
m. But Christians and Jews claim that Ishmael was an illegitimate son.
M. That is what they say, but not what the Bible states. How could a great prophet like Abraham have an illegal wife and a son out of wedlock!
(Genesis 16:3): "... and [Sarah] gave her [Hager] to her husband Abram to be his wife." If the marriage was legal, how could their offspring be illegal then? Is a marriage between two foreigners, a Chaldean and an Egyptian, not more legal than a marriage between a man with a daughter of his father? Whether it was a lie of Abraham or not, it is stated in (Genesis 20:12): "And yet indeed she [Sarah] is my sister, she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife."
The name Ishmael was also chosen by Allah Himself (Genesis 16:11): "And the Angel of the Lord said unto her [Hager]: 'Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael, because the Lord hath heard thy affliction."' Ishmael means "God hears". And where in the Bible is it written that Ishmael was an illegitimate son?
m. Nowhere in the Bible.
M. Long before both Ishmael and Isaac were born, Allah made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18): "... saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the Euphrates". Was not the greater part of Arabia lying between the Nile and the Euphrates, where later all the descendants of Ishmael were settling?
m. Do you mean that no land was promised to Isaac and his descendants?
M. We Muslims never deny that Isaac was also blessed. See (Genesis 17:8): "And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed [Isaac] after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
Do you see also the difference that Abraham was mentioned "a stranger" in Canaan but not in the land between the Nile and the Euphrates? As a Chaldean, he was more an Arab than a Jew.
m. But the covenant was made with Isaac, according to (Genesis 17:21): "But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this time in the next year."
M. Does this exclude Ishmael? Where in the Bible does it say that Allah would not make any covenant with Ishmael?