Ishmael and Isaac in the Bible: A
Response to a Christian’s Objections, Part Three
This article is a continuation of our discussion with a
Christian from the IslamiCity
Discussion Forum on the inconsistencies and contradictions of the Biblical
story of Ishmael and Isaac. In his most
the Christian began by trying to support his initial contention concerning the
Bible’s reference to Isaac as Abraham’s “only son”. He wrote (emphasis in the original):
and verse identified and explain but you also need to do your reading and
gather the whole text not part of a text. In Genesis 18:10 it explains. Look!
Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was
listening at the tent entrance, and it was behind the man.
#1 Sarah, not Hagar
was Abraham’s wife.”
it seems the Christian is claiming that since Sarah was Abraham’s actual wife,
that is why Isaac is referred to as Abraham’s “only son”. This is of course a completely false argument,
as Genesis 16:3 states clearly that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to be his “wife”:
“So after Abram had been living in
Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to
her husband to be his wife.”
his commentary on this verse, Rashi made it even clearer, putting special
emphasis on the fact that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham in the 10th
year of their residence in Canaan. He
“This is the allotted time for a woman
who has lived ten years with her husband and has not borne children to him,
when he is obligated to marry another.”
proof can be seen in the original Hebrew.
The word used to describe Hagar is “le-is-sah”,
which is derived from the word “ishshah”. The latter word means “wife”:
“Ishshah is a very common noun
occurring nearly eight hundred times with usage fairly evenly divided between
the meanings of ‘woman’ and ‘wife’. In a
number of contexts, references to ‘wife’ and ‘woman’ are synonymous.”
it is clear that Hagar was also Abraham’s wife.
The Christian’s claim is wholly inaccurate. He then stated:
“#2 The promise was made to them as a
“promise” was made after Ishmael was already born. In fact, it was at least 13 years after
Ishmael’s birth that this “promise” was made.
In any case, we have already seen that Hagar was Abraham’s wife.
Next, the Christian stated:
“#3 Isaac was the “only” son of Abraham
is irrelevant for the reasons given above.
Furthermore, God did not say to Abraham to take his “only son with Sarah”. Instead, He said to Abraham to take his “only
son whom you love…” The implication was
that Isaac was Abraham’s only son, which is ludicrous since Ishmael was also
his son. It was probably for this reason
that the author of the Dead Sea Scroll fragment 4Q225 omitted the story of
Ishmael’s birth entirely.
The Christian next stated:
“#4 The covenant which islamispeace
does not deny was “only” with Isaac, not Ishmael.”
issue of the covenant is also irrelevant.
The question is why the Bible refers to Isaac as Abraham’s “only son”
when Ishmael was the eldest and the first-born.
The Christian has so far failed to offer a reasonable explanation for
this contradiction. Pontificating on the
“covenant” has no bearing on the discussion.
The Christian then stated:
“#5 It was after Hagar and Ishmael was
dismissed from Abraham’s household the promise and or covenant was made, who at
that time the “only” son of Abraham and Sarah was Isaac.”
is also not true. According to Genesis
21:12, the “promise” regarding Isaac was made the day before Hagar and Ishmael
were expelled, not after. Let us read
matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to
him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to
whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will
be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is
Early the next morning Abraham took
some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her
shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered
in the Desert of Beersheba.”
we go even further back, we see in Genesis 17, that the “promise” was
originally made shortly after the “Covenant of Circumcision”, when Ishmael was
still part of Abraham’s household.
Next, the Christian stated:
scriptures never said Ishmael was Abraham’s only son either, it’s when and who
the promise was made to and when he said it. I gave you five logical scenarios
in understanding the explanation of “only” son, why not accept it?”
This is a strange statement since we never claimed that
Ishmael was Abraham’s only son! In our
original article, we stated that the phrase “only son” would only make sense if
the episode in question had occurred before Isaac’s birth, when Ishmael indeed
was Abraham’s only son. The Christian
has resorted to a straw-man argument. As
for his “five logical scenarios”, the refutations above speak for themselves.
Christian then wrote:
you’re trying to manipulate and change the meaning of the scriptures to support
your Quran. Which is what Muslims like Deedat and others have been doing for
centuries as I’ve said.”
We have to wonder at the obvious defensive nature and
hostility been thrown at us. Why is the
Christian so defensive? And what does the
late Ahmed Deedat have to with our discussion?
These are nothing but ad hominem attacks and red herrings.
Christian made another bizarre argument about Ishmael:
at the scripture and when the statement was made, Genesis 22:2 “Take, please, your son, your only son
whom you so love, Isaac” Ishmael and Hagar was no longer part of the family and
had left never to return. That is a major reason why it would not have been
Ishmael that was to be sacrificed as Muslims suggests, Ishmael was no longer
around. In fact, when Ishmael perished, he was not even buried along with
Abraham and his family. Here, from this point on he is rightly called “only son.””
The shocking level of hostility to Ishmael and Hagar can be
plainly seen in this statement. Where is
it stated that Ishmael and Hagar were “no longer part of the family”? According to Genesis 25, Ishmael was present
when Abraham was buried, and he was referred to as his son! Let us read:
lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then
Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of
years; and he was gathered to his people.
His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near
Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had
bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.”
How can the Christian insist that Ishmael was no longer part
of Abraham’s family? Isn’t the Bible
often touted for its emphasis on family?
And what difference does it make that Ishmael was not buried with his
father? Does a separate burial imply no
familial relationship? If so, then are
we to assume that since Joseph is not buried with his father Jacob, he was not
his son? This is a bizarre argument
Next, the Christian
should direct the reader’s attention to point #5. Another failed castration
attempt on God’s Holy Word, the Bible. But it does shows [sic] the
contradictions of the Quran when compared with the Bible. Muslims cannot even
prove to themselves that Ishmael was the child of sacrifice, why? Because it is
not even written in the Quran!!! Why isn't it in your Koran? Clearly, Muhammad
was aware. The Quran however, does point to Isaac. I would be happy to show you
if you’re truly interested.”
This is yet another bizarre argument, for to prove all of
his unsupported and inaccurate claims, the Christian attempts to misquote the
Quran on the subject of the sacrifice, after he misquoted the Bible on several
occasions! We certainly do not need the Christian to quote the Quran!
In any case, while it is true that the Quran
does not specifically name Ishmael as the son who was to be sacrificed, the
fact is that it does not actually name the child at all. So, the argument that since Ishmael was not
specifically named as the child of sacrifice does not automatically prove that
it was Isaac! Furthermore, we can figure
out from the context of the Quranic verses in question that it was indeed
said: "I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me! "O my Lord! Grant me a righteous
(son)!" So We gave him the good
news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.
Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he
said: "O my son! I see in a vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see
what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art
commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practicing Patience and
As we can see, these verses refer to the first-born son,
which both the Bible and the Quran agree was Ishmael (peace be upon him). It becomes even clearer when a few verses
later, Isaac (peace be upon him) is mentioned, so the child of sacrifice could
not have been him. He was not born yet!
gave him [Ibrahim] the good news of Isaac, a prophet, one of the Righteous. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their
progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their
Christian concluded his reply by stating the following:
gave you not one, not two points but FIVE points why “only son” was
appropriately used in regards to Isaac. And that Muhammad himself had no
problem with it. Will islamispeace false and inaccurate post be removed from
his site? Time will tell but truth will prevail.”
We will leave it to the readers to decide whether the
Christian’s descriptions of his own reply are credible. The truth will certainly prevail, but as the
American journalist Herbert Agar noted:
truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to
Therefore, we once again urge the Christian to use his
reason and to let the truth which he prefers not to hear to make him free.
And Allah knows best!
 New International
 “Expository Dictionary
of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew
and Greek Texts”, p. 1043.
 The name “islamispeace”
is my username on the IslamiCity forum.
 Surah As-Saffat,
37:99-102 (Yusuf Ali Translation).
 Surah As-Safaat,