Researcher of Political Science & Classical Islam. Initiated by the Khwajagan i-Naqshband.
Q. What is our position regarding the sacrificial son of Abraham? The Christians and Jews argue that the covenant was with Isaac, and not Ishmael
A. Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem. “And say: “Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish.” (Holy Quran, Sura 17, V. 81)
In his masterpiece “Anwaar i-Muhammadiyya” [Urdu edition, p.22-29]” Imam Allamah Yusuf ibn Isma’il Nabhabani (may Allah have mercy on him), narrated the following hadith from Wathila ibn al-Aska, “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “”Allah chose Kanana from the sons of Isma’il, and Quraysh from Kanana, and from Quraysh the sons of Hashim, and finally chose me from the sons of Hashim.”
In his book, “Virtues of Arabic“, Shaykh ul-Hadith Mawlana Zakariyya Kandhlawi cites the following virtue of the Arabs:
Mulla Ali Qari has quoted the following Hadith of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his family: “To have love for the Quraysh is Iman whilst having hatred for them is kufr. Accordingly, whoever has love for the Arabs has expressed love for me (Prophet) and whoever has hatred for the Arabs has in reality shown his hatred for me” (Iqtidaus Siratil Mustaqeem, p.156)
Some people mistake “Arabs” to be all people who reside in the Middle East, or all persons who speak the Arabic language, however, this is incorrect. According to Islamic tradition, real “Arabs” are specifically and only the direct descendents of Abraham and Ishmael, the Builders of the Kaba at Makkah, through the twelve sons of Ishmael, also known as the 12 Tribes of Ishmael.
With that said, I would like to mention now that the answer to your question is that some of the Children of Israel who went astray did so due to their false belief that God chose the Israelites over the Ishmaelites. The mention in the Holy Qur’an about the Children of Israel being blessed is directly related to their connection to Prophets and the Ark of the Covenant, both of which point towards the Seal of Prophets and the Final Revelation, the Holy Qur’an, in Arabic, to the Ishmaelites. Some of the Children of Israel were so adamant in emphasizing the bloodline of the House of David, the descendent of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, that some of them during the time of Jesus even accused the Holy Virgin Mary of a heinous sin and they denied the miracles of Christ, although he raised the dead, healed the lepers and spoke from the cradle as the Spirit of God, solely because he was not the son of one of them (ie. he was born without a father, like Adam, and hence not from the House and bloodline of David). With that said, it becomes clear that this conspiracy has existed from even before the actual Mawlid (birth) of the Messenger of Allah, the Seal of Prophets Muhammad (upon whom be peace) and as such, we find that some of their religious scribes tampered with the original scriptures and changed the point of emphasis from Ishmael the eldest son of Abraham, to Isaac, the younger son.
As such, it is our belief that the Holy Bible has been changed, and the correct position is that the sacrificial son of Abraham (alaihi salam) is Ishmael (upon whom be peace). Our proof that the Holy Bible has been changed can be cited from the inconsistencies we find in it regarding Ishmael and his mother, and since the “literal Word of God” is beyond flaws, it will be appropriate to conclude after examing the evidences that it had been altered.
What follows is the belief of Muslims, based upon the Quran and Sunnah of Allah’s Most Perfect Messenger, Sayyidina Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace and blessings be upon him) in regards to the “sacrificial son of Abraham”. The Qur’anic version of the sacrifice is as follows:
“My Lord! grant me (a son) of the righteous. So We gave him tidings of a gentle son (Ishmael). And when he was old enough to strive with him, he said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So look, what do you think? He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded. Allah willing, you shall find me of the steadfast. Then, when they had both surrendered (to Allah), and he had placed him upon his forehead, We called unto him: O Abraham: You have (already) fulfilled the vision. Lo! thus do We reward the good. Lo! that verily was a clear test. Then We ransomed him with a tremendous ransom. And We left for him among the later folk (the salutation) :’Peace be unto Abraham!’ Thus do We reward the good. Lo! he is one of Our believing slaves. (The Noble Qur’an in Al-Safat (37): 100-113)
Quranic commentators are unanimous that the gentle son mentioned in the verse is Ishmael. Furthermore, the Holy Quran states about the outcome of the sacrifice Abraham made,
“When Abraham was tested by his Lord in certain matters and completed it (with success), (it was) said (unto him): “I shall raise ye as Leader of Mankind.” (Abraham said): “And from my descendants too?” (Allah) said, “My Promise shall not be for evil doers.” (Quran, 1:124).
A tradition of the Prophet refers to Ishmael as the sacrificial son. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) is reported to have stated, “I am the son of the two Sacrificed”. Commentators write that this statement is a reference to his father Hadrat Abdullah (rad), who was offered as a sacrifice to Allah by his father Hadrat Abdul Muttalib (rad) when he was ordered to dig for the well of ZemZem, and to Hadrat Ishmael (as), the sacrificial son of Abraham (as).
Furthermore, the Apostle of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) is also reported to have said, “I am what Abraham my father prayed for (the Imam of mankind, as the Prophets are the leaders of men, and the Holy Prophet lead all Prophets in prayer on the Night of Mi’raj at al-Aqsa) and the good news of my brother Jesus. When my mother was carrying me she saw a light proceeding from her which showed her the castles of Syria …”
H.E. the Grand Mufti of Cyprus Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani commented, “Moses even informed his people that Allah Almighty was going to send a new Prophet from their cousins, who would be like Moses. It was clear, that he would not be from the same line as Moses. So from the line of Moses, no more Prophet would come who would be like him. The line of that cousin was the line of Ishmael. They were told these good news.” (Power Oceans of Light, p.63)
Here is the Biblical account of the story of Abraham’s sacrifice:
1 And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, 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?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9 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.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. (Genesis 22: 1-19)
The Bible’s Incoherence
According to the Biblical verses above, Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son, but specifies that it was Isaac, not Ishmael. However, according to the very same Holy Bible, Ishmael was Abraham’s first born son, thereby bringing the entire Biblical account of the Sacrifice into question, due to this major incoherence. To elaborate further, the Bible states Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 21.5) while Ishmael was born to Abraham when Abraham was 86 years old (Genesis 16.16). Ishmael was therefore 14 years older than Isaac. During his first 14 years Ishmael was the only son of Abraham; at no time was Isaac the only son of Abraham, thereby substantiating that the Biblical account of the Sacrifice has been tampered with and changed, and that the ‘only son’ mentioned in it at the time of the sacrifice of Abraham, which resulted in the Covenant of Leadership (Imamate) could only have been Ishmael and not Isaac.
Nevertheless, even after coming to the conclusion that Ishmael was the eldest son of Abraham according to the Bible, and hence the only of the two who could ever have been an “only son” to Abraham, some illogical Christians and Jews will argue that even though Ishmael may have been born earlier, Ishmael was not a legitimate son of Abraham, because he was born to his ‘hand maiden’ Hagar (the daughter of Pharaoh Senusrit I and Queen Nufrit), and not his first wife Sarai, who was barren and jealous of Hagar, and as such, because he was illegitimate, he cannot be considered the son of Abraham (Allah forbid!).
Before proceeding further to address such darkness, it is important to point out here that it is the belief of the Sufi sages of Islam that on an esoteric level, the direct effect of Sarai’s jealousy of the first lady; Hajra (Hagar), which was confirmed by the traditions of Ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu) found in Ibn Kathir’s ‘Qisas ul Ambiya’; Sarai forever tainted her bloodline through her son Isaac (upon whom be peace). In fact, while it was due to the pure lineage of Abraham that his sons were blessed as well, it was due to his wife Sarai that so many of the Children of Israel (her descendents) went astray, and persecuted Prophets from within their own family, as mentioned in the Holy Quran, and the Holy Bible, Sarai’s jealousy is also why although so many Prophets were born into that bloodline, the Anti-Christ (Dajjal) also belongs to it.
Getting back to the topic of whether Ishmael could then be considered a legitimate son of Abraham, because his mother was a ‘hand maiden’, and “not a wife”, the Holy Bible itself bears witness to the fact that Ishmael was Abraham’s son:
“And Abraham took Ishmael his son.” Genesis 17:23
Furthermore, the Bible tells us that Ishmael remained the legitimate son of Abraham until even after his death,
“Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full [of years]; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Mchpelah “Genesis 25:8-9
In regards to the absurd Christian claim that Hagar was not a legitimate wife of Abraham, the Bible itself address’ this in Genesis 16:3 “And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid….and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife…”
Therefore, it is our position that such false claims against the House of Abraham and Ishmael are not only baseless from an Islamic viewpoint, but are also baseless as per the Holy Bible.
The Position of Jesus Christ According to Barnabas
To elaborate further on this topic, I wish to bring to your attention the Gospel of Saint Barnabas. Our Master, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani, the Grand Mufti of Cyprus, the island wherein the original Gospel of Barnabas and his tomb was discovered, stated,
“When the Archbishop of Cyprus dreamt about the tree under which St. Barnabas was buried and then found him there with his Gospel, he was very happy and brought the Gospel straight to Constantinople , where the Pope was at the time. In exchange for that Gospel, which the church did not want publicized, the Archbishop got an independent church for Cyprus. That was the beginning of the Orthodox Church. The original Gospel of Barnabas is in the library of the Vatican .
Barnabas was for Jesus like Abu Bakr was for Muhammad, may peace be upon them. He was the youngest, but most important of the disciples, because Jesus Christ knew that only his Gospel would mention the reality of Jesus Christ and of the coming Prophet. All others disappeared, and his Gospel is still alive until today and is declaring the unity of God and the prophesy of the Seal of Prophets. It denies everything concerning Trinity and crucifixion. In the Gospel of Barnabas, Muhammad is translated as Ahmed, as Paraklitos, the most respected person.
(Power Oceans of Light, Moulana Sheik Nazim Al-Haqqani Nasqshbandiya, p. 93)
Here is the position of Jesus Christ, the blessed and pure son of the Holy Virgin Mary (may Allah be pleased with her), as recorded in The Gospel of Barnabas, Chapter 43: Promise to Ishmael
“James answered: ‘O master, tell us in whom this promise was made; for the Jews say “in Isaac,” and the Ishmaelites say ‘in Ishmael.’”
Jesus answered: ‘David, whose son was he, and of what lineage?’
James answered: ‘Of Isaac; for Isaac was father of Jacob, and Jacob was father of Judah , of whose lineage is David.’
Then said Jesus: ‘And the messenger of God when he shall come, of what lineage will he be?’
The disciples answered: ‘Of David.’
Whereupon Jesus said: ‘Ye deceive yourselves; for David in spirit calleth him lord, saying thus: “God said to my lord, sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool. God shall send forth thy rod which shall have lordship in the midst of thine enemies.” If the messenger of God whom ye call Messiah were son of David, how should David call him lord? Believe me, for verily I say to you, that the promise was made in Ishmael, not in Isaac.”’
Thereupon said the disciples: ‘O master, it is thus written in the book of Moses, that in Isaac was the promise made.’
Jesus answered, with a groan: ‘It is so written, but Moses wrote it not, nor Joshua, but rather our rabbins, who fear not God. Verily I say unto you, that if ye consider the words of the angel Gabriel, ye shall discover the malice of our scribes and doctors. For the angel said: “Abraham, all the world shall know how God loveth thee; but how shall the world know the love that thou bearest to God? Assuredly it is necessary that thou do something for love of God.” Abraham answered: “Behold the servant of God, ready to do all that which God shall will.”
‘Then spoke God, saying to Abraham: “Take thy son, thy firstborn Ishmael, and come up the mountain to sacrifice him.”
How is Isaac firstborn, if when Isaac was born Ishmael was seven years old?
Then said the disciples: ‘Clear is the deception of our doctors: therefore tell us thou the truth, because we know that thou art sent from God.’
Then answered Jesus: ‘Verily I say unto you, that Satan ever seeketh to annual the laws of God; and therefore he with his followers, hypocrites and evil-doers, the former with false doctrine, the latter with lewd living, to-day have contaminated almost all things, so that scarcely is the truth found. Woe to the hypocrites! For the praises of this world shall turn for them into insults and torments in hell.
‘I therefore say unto you that the messenger of God is a splendor that shall give gladness to nearly all that God hath made, for he is adorned with the spirit of understanding and of counsel, the spirit of wisdom and might, the spirit of fear and love, the spirit of prudence and temperance, he is adorned with the spirit of charity and mercy, the spirit of justice and piety, the spirit of gentleness and patience, which he hath received from God three times more than he hath given to all his creatures. O blessed time, when he shall come to the world! Believe me that I have seen him and have done him reverence, even as every prophet hath seen him: seeing that of his spirit God giveth to them prophecy. And when I saw him my soul was filled with consolation, saying: “O Mohammed, God be with thee, and may he make me worthy to untie thy shoe latchet, for obtaining this I shall be a great prophet and holy one of God.” ‘
And having said this, Jesus rendered his thanks to God.”
(Gospel of Barnabas, Chapter 43-44: ‘Promise to Ishmael’, ‘Sacrifice Ishmael’)
In conclusion, I would like to remind you that according to the Islamic position and that cited from Barnabus above, even Christ faced denial when he preached the Gospel and highlighted the virtues of the Ishmaelites (due to their connection to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)) to the Children of Israel, as too did the Seal of Prophets (salllahu alaihi wa sallam) face similar denials from the People of the Book during his blessed life. I believe it may be the best policy to convey the Truth of the Prophethood of Muhammad, the Seal of Prophets (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) to them through a practical example (ie. encourage them to interact with the Awliya (Sufi Saints) etc.) and pray for their guidance, that they may be lead to the truth in this matter.
Allama Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani, the author of Tafsir Uthmani (English), states on p.206 of Vol. 1
“God ordered that if the Najran Christians did not accept after so many arguments and clear facts, they should be invited for a ‘Mubahela’. The practical form of Mubahela was so devised that both contending parties should gather at an appointed place with their-selves and their children and humbly pray that God’s curse should be laid upon those who were liars…When the Najran Deputation heard this challenge they asked time for consultation. In private consultations, their wise and experienced members said, “You have believed and known by your hearts that Muhammad is the Messenger of God and he has given exact decisive proofs about Jesus Christ. You know that God had promised to raise a Prophet among the Bani Ismaeel (Children of Ishmael)…With this resolution they went to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was coming out with (his Ahlul Bayt) Hasan, Husein, Fatema and Ali. Seeing their enlightened faces, the Archbishop of the Najran Christians said, “I am looking at such holy faces, that their prayer can move the mountains even. Don’t destroy yourselves by accepting the Mubahela, otherwise no Christian will be left on earth”. At last, they forsook the Mubahela…and made a peace treaty and returned home. In a Tradition the Holy Prophet has said if they had done Mubahela, a rain of fire would have fallen on them in the valley and God would have exterminated Najran and within one year all the Christians would have perished.”
(Tafsir Uthmani, Allama Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani, trans. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmad. Bombay: Taj Publishers, 1992. Vol. 1, p. 206)
And Allah Knows Best!