Ishmael’s story in the Qur’an begins with a supplication by Abraham which was greeted with the glad tidings of a special son:
“My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous.” So, we gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy [37:100-101].
Similarly, for Isaac, God makes a promise to Abraham:
“And We gave him good tidings of Isaac…” [37:112].
We see a fulfilment of these promises in the Prophethood of Ishmael and Isaac:
Say, [O believers], “We have believed in God and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord…”Quran [2:136]
From this verse we can see that both Ishmael and Isaac were blessed with the greatest station that a human being can attain: Prophethood. We can see that the stories presented by the Qur’an about both sons are coherent; all of God’s promises to Abraham are fulfilled by their Prophethood.
The glad tidings that God gave to Abraham would not make sense, had the Qur’an gone on to say that Isaac was raised to be an evil man, or that his greatest achievement was a worldly, materialistic affair such as being wealthy. This is not to say that wealth is not a blessing.
However, from the point of view of Isaac’s father and one of the great Prophets of God, Abraham, this promise of God could only mean one thing: a great spiritual blessing, rather than material blessing, a son who would follow in his noble footsteps.
Readers might be interested to know that the Qur’an mentions Isaac a total of 17 times, and Ishmael a total of 12 times. This is a remarkable point if we reflect on it. For the sake of argument, if the Qur’an were nothing more than an invention of the mind of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him , or had it been tampered with by those who were first tasked with preserving it, i.e., the Arabs, then one has to wonder why Isaac is mentioned more times than Ishmael.
Given the tribalistic nature of Arabian society and the importance they placed on lineage, wouldn’t you expect the focus to be on Ishmael, the forefather of the Arabs, over that of Isaac, the forefather of the Jewish people? Would it be unreasonable to expect their nationalism to leak into the pages of the Qur’an by playing down Isaac’s importance, or even for his character to be attacked? Yet, what we find is the complete opposite: both Isaac and Ishmael are glorified as great Prophets.
By contrast, a careful analysis of the Bible’s stories about Ishmael reveals irreconcilable contradictions and prejudiced readings in the text. No doubt, Jewish and Christian apologists have gone to great lengths to explain these problems, but an objective analysis can only lead to one conclusion:
These inconsistencies are real and cannot be resolved by mental gymnastics. Since God is perfect, then it stands to reason that His true revelation is perfect, too. The best explanation appears to be that the original stories about Ishmael have been corrupted by human hands and passed off as “scripture”, exactly as the Qur’an reveals.
It is important to mention that these issues with the Biblical narrative have been raised not to upset or offend the reader, but rather to arrive at the truth. Without the correct bearings, it is impossible for one to navigate and arrive at the correct destination. Likewise, with Biblical prophecy, without the correct foundation, one will not be able to correctly interpret Scripture.
Many Jews and Christians write off Muhammad peace be upon him because they cannot accept the possibility of an Arabian Prophet owing to their misunderstanding about the role of Ishmael as portrayed in the Bible. We have seen that, far from the door of Prophethood being shut on Ishmael.
It is in fact wide open for him and his descendants in God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Furthermore, the examples we have looked at in Deuteronomy 33 and Isaiah 42 which proclaim the coming of an Arabian Prophet, only serve to confirm this understanding.
Allah Knows Best
Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.
Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan
Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.
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Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.