Abraham and Ishmael: A Comparative Study of Jewish and Islamic Perspectives

Jewish – Exploring the Shared Narratives and Unique Insights into the Beloved Figures in Both Traditions” In the story of Genesis 25, following Sarah’s demise (Genesis 23) and Isaac’s wedding (Genesis 24), Abraham takes another wife named Keturah.

We learn about their children and their families, as well as the reasons they were sent to the East in order to not threaten Isaac’s legacy (Genesis 25:1-6). The rabbis propose that the wife Abraham took following Sarah’s death, Keturah, is Hagar (Genesis Rabbah 61:4).

Isaac’s son Esau was married to Ishmael’s daughter (Genesis 28:9 36:3), meaning relations between the brothers’ family members were normalized. In addition, the text gives our names for the descendants of Ishmael, who lived in the wilderness near Egypt.

A rabbinic book of Midrash (an innovative expansion of the Biblical Text), Pirkey de’Rabbi Eliezer (PRE) is an intriguing addition to the conclusion of their Biblical story. PRE presents the following tale: “And he (Ishmael) dwelt in the wilderness of Paran” (Genesis 21:21). “Ishmael sent and took a wife from the daughters of Moab named ‘A’ishah.” The character Aishah is described here as a Moabite, although it is Arabic, and was one of the wives of Prophet Muhammad.

The story starts with Abraham traversing the same tension that we have seen in Genesis 21: He’s in love with Ishmael; however, Sarah insists on keeping a strict distance. After his arrival, Abraham is greeted by Abraham’s Prophet. Abraham is dissatisfied with his daughter-in-law’s absence of hospitality and is at odds with Abraham’s fundamental principles (Genesis 18-19) and the general rules of hospitality.

The lack of hospitality shown by ‘Aishah’s family is connected to her being a Moabite, the group that ac, cording to the Torah, didn’t p, provide their fellow Israelites “bread and water” when they were in dire need (Deuteronomy 23:4-5).

The Torah claims that Hagar received Ishmael as an heir in Egypt (Genesis 21:21). However, here in PRE, his second wife is Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad.

In contrast to ‘Aishah, Fatima is generous and compassionate, and Prophet Abraham indicates to Prophet Ishmael that he’s in favor of this match. Ishmael interprets this as an indication of his father’s continued affection for his son despite Sarah’s enforced separation.

Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion and the author of Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis (SUNY, 1990), highlights the Pirkey de’Rabbi Eliezer story is primarily positive regarding Hagar and Ishmael in presenting Sarah as the sole obstacle to this particular branch of the family that is still with Abraham.

The motive for Abraham’s journey in the Jewish version is clear: the tragic trauma of being exiled must be resolved, and Abraham’s position as head of the Jewish people needed to be saved.

This is achieved through Abraham’s blessings to Prophet Ishmael and his family and the restoration of Hagar’s status in the form of Keturah. Abraham remains faithful to his former wife, Sarah, and yet he does not let go of his firstborn son and his mother, Hagar, who, following Sarah’s death, became Abraham’s second wife again.

There are many differences between the Jewish stories and Muslim tales. They differ from one another in several aspects. One of the most distinctive aspects of the Jewish tale of Abraham’s reconciliation is Hagar, and in the Islamic version, Hagar is already deceased before the time of the visit.

In the Islamic version is distinctive because of in the use of Maqam Abraham within the book of Ka’ba and also the geographical location that the trip takes place in (Paran is located in Arabia instead of being located just north of the Land of Israel), and also in the belief that Abraham and Prophet Abraham as well as Prophet Ishmael were in person.

The last distinction goes to the core of the issue of the story’s origins, according to Rabbi Reuven Firestone. Scholars have pondered which version could have been the first story. The debate is centered around whether the final reconciliation between fathers and children is a unique part of the story or is an added element to help the story flow together with the Quranic version that father and son constructing the Ka’ba together.

The story was first recorded in Yemen during their Jewish kings’ reign. Jews first began to settle in Arabia and Yemen during the centuries following their destruction. Jerusalem and the Holy House were first built around the middle of the 10th century BCE by the Prophet Solomon.

In the past, Jewish Torah scholars were called Scribes or Sages. Jewish mystics frequently spoke of the belief of, in the heavens above, an ideal Holy House-Beit-HaKodesh that was in some mystical way the House of the Gods-BeitEl.

The Qur’an says that their Prophet (Samuel) then declared, “The sign of the blessings of Talut’s kingship will be that Allah will return to you the Tabut (the Ark, a wooden container which is located centrally within the Tabernacle) which was removed from you.

There is Sakinah to your Lord (inward) tranquility and assurance. as well as a remnant of the one that Musa (Moses), along with Harun (Aaron) abandoned, carried by angels. This is a symbol for you to know if you genuinely are an apologist. (Qur’an 2:248)

Ibn Kathir explains “carried by the angles” by using Ibn Jurayj, who stated that Ibn `Abbas said, “The angels came down carrying the Tabut between the earth and the sky, and they set it in front of Talut (Saul) as the people watched.”

Therefore, there will always be a Holy House to take a monotheistic pilgrimage. If it isn’t physically within Makka or Jerusalem, It is ideally spiritually at the top of heaven. If it isn’t called Beitullah or Beitullah, it is called Beit El. If it’s not Bayt al-Maqdis, it is known as Beit HaMiqdash; there are several names, two locations on earth and one in heaven; however, they are all the same.

When the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael built Makka, the Holy House in Makka, Jerusalem had no house.

In the mid-tenth century, Jerusalem was where Prophet Solomon constructed Solomon’s Holy House. The Holy House in Makka, built by the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael, had already been contaminated through the 360 gods Makkans had erected around it.

In 587 BCE 587 BCE, the Babylonians took over 587 BCE the Babylonians destroyed the Holy House in Jerusalem. Around 70 years later, the Jews exiled in Babylonia restored Jerusalem’s Holy House in Jerusalem.

A few years after that of Jesus, In the year 70 CE, The Romans devastated Jerusalem and the city’s Holy House. The Romans built triumphal archways inside The Roman Forman portraying the holy Temple’s candelabra, which was taken into prison.

Throughout Jahiliyyah, the Holy House in Makkah remained dirty until it was cleansed from its idols of 360 by the Prophet Muhammad towards the close of his life. Since then, the Makkah Holy House has remained pure. So, the perfect Heavenly Holy House was rebuilt in two holy sites several times.

The one God worshipped in every holy spot is the sole God of all places worldwide. The Rabbinic Sages were taught: “Why is God called Makom (place)? Because He is the only place in the world, and this world does not belong to His home. (Yalqut Shimoni Vayetze 117)

One of the most famous names for God in Jewish custom is Makom- place. It is so because when the Prophet Jacob fled from his hateful brother Esau (Genesis 27:41), He slept at night in a particular location, where he saw visions of a ladder linking earth and heaven.

“Jacob went to a specific area and stayed there; as the sun was setting, he picked one of the stones from the spot, threw it on top of his head, and laid it down in the location. He woke up to a dream where a ladder was placed on the earth, its top reaching heaven, and the angels and the demons of God would be ascending or descending upon it. (Genesis 28:11-12)

Because Jews consider that the sacred Temple located in Jerusalem will never be rebuilt until the Messiah arrives, they hoped that someday a Prophet would appear in Makkah and rid Ka’bah Ka’bah of its 360 gods. They were rewarded by Prophet Muhammad several centuries later.

Maybe this is the reason why, just after the conquest of Jerusalem by the caliph who was second in rank, Umar bin al-Khattab, the caliph headed straight towards “the area where the Romans buried the Temple [bayt al maqdis] at the time of the sons of Israel.” According to Abu Ja’far Muhammed Bin Jarir al-Tabari (839-923 CE), who was a prominent commentator in the Quran and is regarded as one of the greatest Islamic historians.”

This could be why Bronze coins were introduced in the 696/97 period, 5 to 10 times before the Dome of the Rock was constructed. The Dome of the Rock was seven Temple menorahs centered on one side and an inscription on the Shahada in Arabic saying, “There is no god but Allah.” On another side, inscribed: “Muhammed (is a) Messenger of God.”


Categories: PRAYER (Salat), ALMS (Zakat), SAWN (Fasting) HAJJ (Pilgrimage) & DUA (Supplications), Hadith and Tafseer, The Holy Quran, Quran Jaz 1- 114

Topics:  Ushr and Zakat, Hijab, Arabic Corner, Faith, Islamic History, Biography, Sirat ul Nabi PBUH,  Islamic Studies, Halal & Haram

Alasad Online Quran Tutor