“Ibraheem’s wife Sarai had not borne him any children. But she had an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar [Hajira] and so she said to Ibraheem (AS) ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Why don’t you sleep with my slave [Hagar/Hajirah]? Perhaps she can have a child for me’ Ibraheem agreed with what Sarai said.
(Genesis 16: 1-3)
“You are going to have a son, and you will name him Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your cry of distress.”
(Genesis 16: 11-12, Message from an Angel of Allah to Hagar after she ran away from Sarai and Ibraheem’s house because of Sarai’s cruelty towards her)
“Hagar bore Ibraheem (AS) a son, and he named him Ishmael. Ibraheem (AS) was 86 years old at the time.”
(Genesis 16: 15)
“God said to Ibraheem (AS) you must no longer call your wife Sarai; from now on her name is Sarah [meaning Princess in Hebrew] I will bless her and I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will become the mother of nations, and there will be kings among her descendants.
Ibraheem (AS) bowed down with his face touching the ground, but he began to laugh when he thought, ‘Can a man have a child when he is a hundred years old? Can Sarah have a child at ninety?
He [Ibraheem AS] asked God, Why not let Ishmael be my heir?’ But God said, ‘No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son and you will name him Ishaq (AS) [which means ‘He laughs’ in Hebrew]
(Genesis 17: 15-20)
“I [God] have heard your request about Ishmael (AS), so I will bless him and give him many children and many descendents. He will be the father of twelve princes and I will make a great nation of his descendents
But I will keep my covenant with your son Isaac, who will be born to Sarah about this time next year.”
(Genesis 17: 20-22)
“On that same day Ibraheem (AS) circumcised his son Ishmael (AS).”
(Genesis 17: 23)
“Ibraheem (AS) was 99 years old when he was circumcised and his son Ishmael was thirteen.” (Genesis 17: 24-26)
ISHMAEL THE FIRSTBORN AS WELL AS THE FAVOURED SON
Baseborn [Illegitimate] children were not mentioned in the lineage of either parent; and were discarded and renounced as being the son or daughter of so and so, even if they were raised and brought up in the family. As a general rule, they were excluded from becoming heirs to their parent’s fortune, assets, property and anything else. The Bible follows this pattern.
Why then does the Prophet Ibraheem (AS) ask God why Ishmael can’t become his heir if he was only too well aware of it and why does the Bible mention Ishmael at all if he is illegitimate and quite often as the ‘son’ of Ibraheem (AS).
Why also does God say to both Ishmael’s mother, the concubine [allegedly] he will bless her son when He (Allah) does not approve of adultery and concubinage, and more so why does He go on to say He will bless him with many children make his lineage great and make him the father of a great nation.
In later verses of the Bible mention is made of one of his sons, Kedar, to represent an entire race of people, the Arabs, if he is the product of such an evil act namely a concubine birth.
It would suggest God privately approved of the ‘mistress’ [in modern terms] of Ibraheem (AS) and did what He could to ensure they did not part. If He disapproved would He not have relished her voluntary departure and let her leave of her own volition as this in real terms is embarrassing both for Himself [God] and for later generations to consider a pious man and honourable progenitor of Prophets in need of a ‘bondwoman’ from whom a son was also produced.
Lastly, baseborn children were never circumcised but Ishmael was, along with and at the same time as his father Ibraheem (AS).
If Ishmael is illegitimate because he was circumcised at thirteen, what then of his father Ibraheem (AS) who was circumcised at a very late age, it would suggest either he himself was illegitimate or the order for circumcision had not been ordained beforehand.
In addition there are references to the infant Ishmael and his mother being left in the desert to fend for themselves after the Prophet Abraham is commanded to leave them there, the Biblical account cannot be true as it speaks of the two brothers playing with each other sometime earlier which prompted Sarah to banish them.
According to Genesis 21:14-19 Isaac was weaned at about the age of three when the incident occurred. If Ibraheem in Genesis 16:16 is 86 when Ishmael is born and 100 when Isaac is born (Genesis 21:5) then Ishmael is no longer a baby but a fully grown seventeen year old boy when it happened.
It is further confusingly untrue as the mother is told to carry the boy ‘on her shoulders’ (Gen 21:14)- if the boy is the firstborn and fourteen years his younger brother’s senior can he still be a baby.
How and why would his mother carry a teenager on her shoulder, is she mad. Does she want to collapse and die unnecessarily of heat exhaustion and a broken back after carrying someone with more energy and physical strength than her? Isn’t he strong enough to carry her instead?
The Bible also says in Genesis 21:19 Hagar went to fill a bottle with water and ‘give the lad a drink’. If he is a strong man of seventeen couldn’t he get water for himself and wouldn’t she send him to look for water instead of looking for it herself?
Furthermore in Genesis 21: 17 we are told Hagar sat away so that she may not see the death of her child before her own eyes. If Ismail is seventeen years old at the time, it would be the reverse he would be capable of being worried of his mother dying before his own eyes.
The words used for the son of sacrifice describe him as ‘Yehidika’, corresponding with the noun ‘Yahid’ meaning only son of Ibraheem. ‘Yahid’ also corresponds with the Arabic word ‘Wahid’ also meaning one and only. As Ishmael was the eldest, it again must refer to him.
If we refer to a similar incident in the Bible, on this occasion involving the Prophet Abraham and his eldest son, we reach familiar conclusions.
“And He (God) said, take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah: and offer him there for a burnt offering…”
(Bible, Genesis 22.2)
As explained earlier, the eldest son was not and could not have been Isaac, but in order to glorify the younger branch of the Abrahamaic family tree and leave little or no trace of the Ishmaelites, it is conveniently put that way.
However, the theme of ‘the land of Moriah’ for sacrifice is interesting. Whilst the Bible does not state or specify its exact or approximate location, it is said to have been three days journey from Abraham’s place (Genesis 22: 4).
Christian researchers identify it with the Hill of Moriah on which Jerusalem was later built, but this has little actual credibility. Interestingly, even when King David ruled some eight centuries later, Jerusalem could still be walked through in a single day!
Muslim researchers identify the site with or near the hill of Marwah (the companion hill of Safa) in the City of Makkah then known as the Valley of Bakkah, which is also associated with the infancy of Ishmael (AS). The Qur’an gives him the title ‘Dhabih Allah (Sacrifice of Allah) due to the event.
The Bible also says-
“I [God] shall make a nation of the Son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent he away. And she departed, ands wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba.”
(Genesis 21: 8)
Muslims differ on the point of Hagar as a slave woman and state she was instead the Egyptian’s King’s daughter and a gift from him to the Prophet. As a custom of the time the second wife of a person was just like a maid to the first, therefore Hagar was called the maid of Sarah.
According to Non-Islamic traditions Beer-Sheba is a place in Palestine, but it should be noticed that the above verses does not say Hagar settled in Beer-Sheba, instead it says she ‘wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba.’
Beer-Sheba is in fact in the North of Arabia (as well as a place in Israel); she migrated to Arabia from there. Some other verses prove that Hagar settled in Arabia. It has also been confirmed through research independent of the Bible, a ‘Mount Sinai’ actually exists in Saudi Arabia, as well as in Israel.
“Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery, she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, she corresponds to the present Jerusalem.”
(New Testament, Paul’s letter to Galatians 4: 24-25)
“But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is A’gar [i.e. Hagar]. For this A’gar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which is now, and is, in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is free, which is mother of all.”
(New Testament, Paul’s letter to Galatians 5: 23-26)
Although the verses are clearly biased in favour of Isaac and his mother, the second wife Hagar is identified with the name A’gar and the covenant is re-emphasised and confirms she settled in Arabia where her descendants are. However, in another verse Hagar is pushed above Sarah-
“If a man has two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he makes his sons to inherit that which he has, 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 has: for he is the beginning of the strength; the Right of the firstborn is his.” (Deuteronomy 21: 15-17)
The Bible here speaks in a general sense and we can not suppose Abraham hated Hagar as a wife or Ishmael as his legitimate heir, but it is interesting a rule specified that the firstborn cannot be stripped of his right as the eldest or as an inheritor, but is described as ‘the beginning of the strength’ of the family tree amongst the progeny regardless of which mother either one is produced from.
In which case, the seed of Ishmael [meaning the Arabian line and brethren of the Israelites from whom the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was derived] is greater in Prophethood than Isaac’s ancestry.
There is also further confirmation of settlement in Arabia described in reference to the Prophet Ishmael himself.
“He [Ishmael] lived in the Wilderness of Paran and his mother took him a wife of the land of Egypt”
(Genesis 21: 21)
The Mountains of Al-Hejaz in Saudi Arabia are known as ‘Paran’. In addition the word ‘Paran’ is synonymous to the Arabic word ‘Faran’ which is the name of a specific Mountain in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Ishmael’s wife was Egyptian and Isaac’s wife was Israelite.
“…These are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty-seven years; he breathed his last and died; and was gathered to his kindred.) They [his children] dwelt from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria; he settled over against all his people.”
(Genesis 25: 17-18)
Upon seeing the map of the Ancient Near East (during the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries B.C) the area located between Aram Assyria and Egypt is none other than Arabia.
If also as the Prophet Ishmael is spoken of as ‘I [God] will multiply thy seed’ as the only son (Genesis 16: 10) then the whole of Genesis 22 is applicable to Ishmael and Ishmael alone and not Isaac.
His offspring and descendents, being the Arabs, included the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), which fulfils the prophecy.
Allah made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15: 18) saying ‘Unto your seed have I given this land, from the River of Egypt unto the great river, the Euphrates.”
The greater part of Arabia lies between the Nile and the Euphrates, where later all of Ishmael’s descendents were settling.’
The Bible records Hagar and her son Ishmael were sent to live in the wilderness of Paran. The ‘twelve princes’ mentioned in the prophecy about him referred to twelve sons, from among whom came several civilisations and empires.
The Bible records also the one like Moses is to arise from the Mount of ‘Paran’, (Deuteronomy 33:2) a place Jesus never visited nor knew of. It was what was then little less of a valley desolate of life and existence.
It was Makkah, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the area where Abraham had prayed for a saviour and where his eldest son, Ishmael, was raised, married and died leaving a rich and powerful legacy behind as qualified custodians of the city and teachers of religious heritage as passed down from Abraham.
Furthermore verses in Isaiah 42:11 speak of residents of the desert and its cities, the Villages of Kedar and the Inhabitants of Sela adding ‘let them shout from the top of the mountains.’
Kedar is Ishmael’s second son from whom the Messenger and the Arabs are descended, and Sela is the name of a Mountain in Medina. When the Messenger reached Medina there was much rejoicing, singing in his honour and happiness.
He was himself from the desert, had travelled and just arrived through the desert to another city to found a State based on Islam, which he did like Moses and Jesus, the Messiah, had not.
In full the verses in the Bible read-
‘Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains.’
The Prophet Abraham was mentioned as ‘a stranger’ in the land of Canaan but not in the land between the Nile and the Euphrates. As a Chaldean he was more an Arab than a Jew-
“And I will give unto you, and to your seed [Isaac] after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
(Genesis 17: 8)
The Qur’an also mentions that the Prophet Abraham was neither a Christian or a Jew but a Hanifan [A True Believer in Allah] Qur’an 3: 95. He’s also mentioned as a community in himself as well as a leader and obedient servant devoted to the Cause of God.
Makkah in the Bible and the Qur’an
“How happy are those whose strength comes from you, who are eager to make the pilgrimage to Zion. As they pass through the Dry Valley of Baca, it becomes a place of Springs (Zamzam); the autumn rain fills it with pools. They grow stronger as they go.”
(Statement by Prophet David, Psalms 84: 5-7)
The Qur’an verifies the spiritual importance and significance of the dry and desolate valley and vicinity as it was at the time.
“Verily the First House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Baca (Makkah), full of blessing and a guidance for Al-Alamin (Mankind and the rest of creation).
(Qur’an, Surah 3, Verse 96)
However, what evidence is there that Baca is actually Makkah? The Qur’an clarifies it in the following verse-
‘In it (Baca) are manifest signs, the Maqam [place] of Ibraheem; whosoever enters it, attains security. And Hajj [Pilgrimage] to the House [Ka’aba] is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses [for pilgrimage].”
(Qur’an, Surah 3, Verse 97)
The area was later named Makkah but retained its sacred, sanctified and special honour and prestige. The only place where the Maqam of Ibraheem [Station of Abraham] is and historically was always located is in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
It is also the only place on earth where adherents have and still perform the ‘Hajj’ [pilgrimage] annually and visit a special ‘House’ of Worship built specifically for the worship and remembrance of God.
As the Fifth Pillar in Islam and Sacred Commandment, adherents must perform the rite as ‘a duty’ as mentioned in the above verse, at least once in their lifetimes as long as, as the Qur’an says, they ‘can afford the expenses’. And it is also under the City’s present name it is mentioned in the Qur’an as well.
“And He it is (Allah) Who has withheld their hands from you and your hands from them in the midst of Makkah, after he made you victors over them”.
(Qur’an, Surah 48, Verse 24)