Ishmael and Isaac in the Bible: A
Response to a Christian’s Objections, Part Six
This article is a continuation of our discussion with a
Christian from the IslamiCity Discussion
on the inconsistencies and contradictions of the Biblical story of Ishmael and
Isaac. In his new reply, the Christian
“So it’s admitted
that Isaac was the ‘only son’
of Abraham through Sarah but yet he still refutes it.”
we explained, we never questioned that Isaac was Abraham’s only son through
Sarah. The Christian is claiming victory
over a disagreement that never occurred!
What we “refuted” was the fallacy of claiming that the phrase “only son”
was a reference to Isaac being the only son through Sarah. As usual, the Christian has not offered a
He then stated:
“That is exactly what the verse is
saying to its readers and that’s all I was saying.”
Christian has provided absolutely no evidence for this claim. It is a non-sequitur. The verse does not say “take your only son
through Sarah”. It only says “take your
only son”. The Christian is making a
leap of faith by claiming that God actually meant “take your only son through
Sarah”. No evidence has been provided
because none exists in the text.
Next, the Christian went off on
tangents once again:
“But, for Muslims they feel slighted
since Ishmael was left out of everything imaginable. Get over it! Esau and
other first born in the Bible were left out of their inheritance as well. That
is the price they had to pay for their error.”
Muslims feel slighted at the Bible’s insulting reference to a god who chooses
people based on their ethnicity or race, rather than their righteousness. Muslims believe that both Ishmael and Isaac were
chosen by God, because God is not a tribal/national deity. He is “Rabb-al-Alimeen”, Lord of the Worlds.
It is also strange that the
Christian claims that Ishmael was left out by God as a price for his “error”. What error?
If Isaac was somehow a better person than Ishmael, then how does the
Christian explain his behavior in later life?
According to the Bible, Isaac lied to the people of Gerar when they
asked him about Rebekah. Fearing that
they would kill him and take her, he stated that she was his sister instead. In other words, he was willing to sacrifice
her in order to save himself! I suppose
chivalry is really dead.
And since the Christian brought up
Jacob and Esau, we may as well point out that Jacob also resorted to lies and
deception as well as blackmail. The
Bible claims that when Esau came back from a hunting trip, he was tired and
hungry. When he asked his brother for
some food, Jacob exploited him by demanding that Esau give up his “birth-right”. Would the Christian consider this to be
normal behavior? We certainly do
Moreover, Jacob also lied to his
father Isaac by pretending to be Esau, whom Isaac loved. The Bible claims that Isaac blessed Jacob
thinking him to be Esau and when Esau came to him and asked for a blessing,
Isaac lamented that Jacob had taken the blessing through deception! When poor Esau begged his father for a blessing,
Isaac could only tell him that he would serve his younger brother. What is even more absurd is that God had
nothing to say about Jacob’s blackmail and deception! Is this the type of behavior that one would
expect from God’s chosen ones? Isaac and
Jacob both exhibited deceptive behavior.
Isaac was even willing to protect himself at the expense of his wife
Rebekah! Yet, the Christian wants us to
believe that Ishmael was not chosen by God because of some “error”. This is surely nonsense!
Next, the Christian stated:
“Abraham got over it! Even Hagar got
over it! Why cannot Muslims?”
is a pretty childish argument, which we have already refuted. The Christian is again resorting to a
circular argument. How does he know that
Abraham and Hagar “got over it”? Do we
have their actual testimonies? Of course
In any case, the reason that Muslims
do not accept the Biblical version is precisely because of the internal
contradictions and nonsensical storyline.
We also take offense at the Bible’s description of a petty god who
chooses people based on pretty low standards.
It is clearly not one’s righteousness that gets one chosen, as the Christian
deceptively tried to claim.
Muslims, on the other hand, believe
in a God who is just and fair. We
believe in a God who selected both of Abraham’s sons, because both were
righteous. The Bible’s hostility towards
Ishmael can be seen in the Christian’s hostility towards him. This is not a coincidence.
Next, the Christian brought up the subject
of plagiarism, no doubt in an attempt to distract from his own shameless
“For the simple reason as I stated in
the outset, they need Ishmael to be the child of sacrifice instead of Isaac,
which by the way is the BIGGEST plagiarism in existence today; the Koran
copying that Bible account of Abraham and then changing the name from Isaac
being the child of sacrifice to Ishmael.”
instead of having the integrity to admit that he is guilty of plagiarism and dishonest
research, the Christian simply changed the subject and accused the Quran of
plagiarizing from the Bible. This issue
is outside the scope of this article, but we can just point out that if the
Quran had indeed plagiarized from the Bible, then why is it so different from
it? Why does the Quran lack the
contradictions and nonsensical storyline of the Bible?
Ironically, the Christian
contradicts himself as well. He has been
claiming all this time that the child of sacrifice was not specifically named
as Ishmael in the Quran (which is correct), yet above he rants that the Quran “[changed]
the name of Isaac…to Ishmael”! Which is
it? This ludicrous claim is all the more
absurd given that the Christian provided absolutely no support for his claim,
yet he demanded evidence of the Bible’s alterations to the story (which we
provided and will discuss further below).
The Christian then stated:
“But, what else is there? Without Ishmael,
Islam loses its roots and identity. And without that they have no prophet and
no Koran, which means they have no future, much like Ishmael. But, that is the
least of their worries.”
don’t know what the Christian is talking about, since we already explained the
Islamic position with regard to prophethood.
Islam teaches that God has sent prophets to all nations of the world,
not just one particular nation. A person
did not need to be a descendant of Ibrahim (peace be upon him) in order to
qualify as a prophet. Furthermore, if
the Christian had bothered to actually try to understand the Islamic position
on the question of the sacrifice, he would realize that to Muslims it would not
matter if Isaac was indeed the child. Of
course, the evidence clearly shows that it was Ishmael, but even if it was not,
it would not be a big deal. The reason is
that we do not believe in a racial or tribal god, what the Bible refers to as
the “God of Israel”. God is not just the
“God of Israel” but the God of All. He
also did not only choose people from the “Children of Israel” but rather from the
“Children of Adam”. He is an impartial
God, who chooses the most righteous. The
Christian would be well-advised to rethink his view of God, because his current
view is an insult to Him.
Next, the Christian stated:
statement was and I quote “The problem is that the verse simply says “take your
son, your only son…” without mentioning Sarah.”
Seriously, that’s their hang up,
“without mentioning Sarah” really? Does the Koran Mention Ishmael as the child
of sacrifice? No! But, their hang up is the Bible say’s ‘only son’ without
mentioning Sarah. Why would the Bible have to unless there was some foul
intentions? Everyone knew Isaac belonged to Sarah and Abraham, even you as was
admitted. Why didn’t the Koran mention Ishmael if it was truly him? Why didn’t
Hagar mention it since she was the mother of Ishmael? Your denial may cost you.
But, like Ahmed Deedat and other Muslim debaters they put the blame on the
Bible rather than their Koran when it is Muslims who say it was Ishmael not
Jews or Christians. Their line or reasoning is warp and suspect at BEST!”
again, the Christian resorts to childish rants rather than a substantive
rebuttal. It is truly saddening to see
so much immaturity in a person.
Coming back to the issue, the
Christian is simply assuming via his refusal to admit that the Bible has
internal contradictions that the phrase “only son” meant “only son through
Sarah”. We are simply observing that the
text does not say that. The Christian
wants to be taken at his word, but his word is not good enough.
But ironically, the Christian
refuted his own argument (unknowingly of course). He claims that the Bible did not have to
mention “through Sarah” because “everyone knew Isaac belonged to Sarah and
Abraham”. This is exactly what we stated
and which is why the argument falls apart!
If it was well-known that Isaac was Abraham’s only son through Sarah,
then why even use the phrase “only son”?
Why not just say “take your son whom you love”? If the latter phrase had been used, the
Christian’s point would make sense since it would be obvious that Isaac was
being referred to (given that Ishmael was no longer around).
Next, the Christian finally
attempted to reply to our use of scholarly material, which up to this point, he
had been avoiding. Unfortunately, he
failed to take the full explanation into account. He stated:
even in your own defense your references mentions exactly what I said before in
point #5 . . .
Point 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.
***Your own references said
“”Consequently, when God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son (2 i 11),
Isaac is quite literally…the only son the patriarch has.””***”
is truly disconcerting to see someone so blinded by his denial and bias that he
cannot even properly quote the scholarly source we referenced. The Christian simply took one part of the
source out of context and declared victory for his view. Here is the quote again in its entirety
“…the author of 4Q225 develops a
structure that creates a new backdrop for the narrative of the Aqedah.
Prefacing the account of the Aqedah is a summary presentation of the promises
of a son and multiple progeny in Gen 15:2–6 (2 i 3–7). Isaac’s birth is
announced immediately thereafter (2 1 8–9a) and thereby is explicitly portrayed
as the fulfillment of the preceding divine promise of a son. The
Ishmael narratives that intervene between the promises of the covenant making
in Genesis 15 and the birth of Isaac are omitted. Indeed, in 4Q225 Ishmael is never born.
Consequently, when God commands Abraham
to sacrifice his only son (2 i 11), Isaac is quite literally…the only son the
we can see, the source was stating that only
after the author of 4Q225 had completely removed the story of Ishmael from
the narrative did it make Isaac “the only son the patriarch has”. The meaning is clear and should not be
difficult to understand. We once again
invite the Christian to use his reason.
Denial only hurts you in the end.
Next, the Christian childishly
gloated as if he had proven his point, declaring victory once again:
“Did you catch that? “Isaac is quite
literally…the “only son” ….This is your references not mine. Case PROVEN once
hate to disappoint our critic but as the above shows, he did not prove anything
except his own bias and childishness. We
would also like to point out that writing in all caps does not give an argument
Next, the Christian stated:
“Next, in an even more desperate
attempt he uses Jewish apocalyptic literature. Apocryphal and Pseudepigrapha (literally meaning ‘falsely attributed
writings’) books that were never accepted as canonical as his primary reference tool. Books that
promote astrology and angel worship and written by Jewish Theorist. Books full
of unfulfilled prophecies. Books such as “The Assumption of Moses,” “The
Apocalypse of Ezra” and the “Book of Jubilees.” This is really your best proof of alterations? Seriously? None of the Bible
writers ever mention any of these books or authors by name, not even Jesus but
obviously these books are your only line of defense.”
we see an example of special pleading.
The Christian asked for evidence of the Bible’s alterations and when he
was given it, he denied its significance claiming that the evidence had come
from “Jewish apocalyptic literature”.
First, it should be pointed out that our previous example, 4Q225, was
not from a non-canonical book. It was a
different version of the Genesis story of Ishmael and Isaac. The last time we checked, Genesis was a
Furthermore, as we pointed out in
to this same individual’s reply
to our article “The
History of the Bible and the Quran: A Comparative Analysis of the Holy Texts”
(which he never responded to), the Christian Bible is filled with references to
non-canonical books. For example, the author
of Jude referenced the apocryphal Book of Enoch. Why? If
early Christians were quoting non-canonical books as scripture, why is this
Christian rejecting any reference to the Book of Jubilees? In addition, if the Christian would have been
bothered to do some actual research, he would realize that the Book of Jubilees
is considered to be scripture by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and by Ethiopian
Jews (Beta Israel).
Second, we also noted that variants
of the story from Genesis 22 are found in the Septuagint and other translations
of the canonical Hebrew Bible. Whereas
the Masoretic text uses the phrase “your only one”, the Septuagint uses the
phrase “your beloved one”. In other
words, Greek-speaking Jews did not read “take your son, your only son” but
rather “take your son, your beloved one”.
What better example of alterations can be given? Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will
readily admit that the different translations do not agree on the wording.
The Christian then stated:
“And even in this
sad attempt regarding the term only son, your references didn’t say Ishmael was
the child of sacrifice. Whereas some of the Muslims scholars that I provided
indeed said it was Isaac, so you can’t get more conclusive then that.”
it should be noted that the Christian did not provide anything. He simply plagiarized from a Christian apologetic
source and tried to pass it off as his own research. Blind copying is not an example of honest
Second, the point of referring to
the scholarly sources was to show that the Bible does not agree with itself. The Christian is simply moving the goal post (by
saying that the scholarly sources do not state that Ishmael was the child of
sacrifice), now that he realizes that the story has been altered (though he
will not admit it). The point is that
the Bible’s inner contradictions have been exposed, so why would any reasonable
person believe it?
Third, as we showed in Part
5, the reference to some Muslim scholars who believed that Isaac was the
child of sacrifice is fraught with difficulty.
These very same scholars are also quoted in other traditions as saying
that Ishmael was the child of sacrifice!
Had the Christian done some honest research, instead of blindly and
lazily being spoon-fed by deceptive Christian missionaries, he would have
figured this out. To further demolish
the appeal to the plagiarized material, let us provide a specific example from
Tabari (whom the missionaries deceptively quoted) to illustrate our point. The Christian’s plagiarized report mentioned
Abu Kurayb as relating a tradition that Isaac was the child of sacrifice:
“According to Abu Kurayb - Ibn
Yaman-Mubarak - al-Hasan-al-Ahnaf b. Qays-al - 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib: The
quote, "Then We ransomed him with a tremendous victim," refers to
Tabari also mentioned that Abu Kurayb also related another tradition, which
states the following:
“According to Abu Kurayb and Ishaq b.
Ibrahim b. Habib b. al-Shahid – Yahya b. Yaman – Isra’il – Thuwayr – Mujahid –
Ibn ‘Amr: The victim was Ishmael.”
examples can be seen in Tabari’s account as well, with different traditions by
Ya’qub, Ibn Humayd and Ibn Bashshar.
Hence, the Christian needs to
realize that he is way out of his league.
Yet, we are not angry with him.
Rather, we pity him for being the victim of a vicious lie by his fellow
missionaries. Ultimately, he is the one being
deceived. Had he the courage to realize
this, he could free himself from their lies.
The Christian next stated:
“But, again it does show zealousness to promote falsehood
just like your hero Ahmed Deedat. Islamispeace then went on to
say and I quote “Common sense would indicate that this verse makes no sense
since Ishmael was also Abraham’s son. the Christian has failed thus far to
offer a reasonable clarification”
So answer this question islamispeace,
from a Muslims point of view where is the common sense in the Koran omitting
Ishmael as the child of sacrifice?”
reader should notice that the Christian did not actually respond to our point
but rather asked a question to distract from the issue. Has he any reasonable reply to make to our
“Common sense would indicate that this
verse makes no sense since Ishmael was also Abraham’s son.”
await a substantive reply.
With regard to his red herring about
the Quran omitting Ishmael’s name, we have already proven beyond a doubt that
Ishmael was indeed the child of sacrifice.
The Christian, as with other issues that he has been refuted on, ignored
the evidence we have provided from the Quran itself which shows conclusively
that it was Ishmael, not Isaac (peace be upon them both). Again, we await a substantive reply.
Next, he stated:
“It is clear as the Bible noted and as
was admitted, Isaac was the ‘only son’ of Abraham by wife Sarah. On the other
hand it is Muslims who desperately need Ishmael not Jews or Christian’s, a FACT
that seems to escape the Muslim community. I don’t know who Muslims have talked
to in the past regarding this subject but it is this Ahmed Deedat syndrome or
this narcissistic approach of the Bible (a preoccupation on how much the Bible
is wrong and the Koran correct) that prevents Muslims as a whole from moving
forward, a trait that was exhibited in Ishmael from long ago.”
we see the Christian’s tendencies to launch into personal attacks and rants
about Ahmed Deedat. We should point out
that Sheikh Ahmed Deedat was a bit before our time and we have actually not
read any of his material. Most of our
references have come from our own research utilizing a variety of sources, both
Muslim and non-Muslim. On the other
hand, the Christian has failed to provide anything beyond his own opinions and plagiarized
material from deceptive Christian missionaries.
Finally, the Christian wrote:
“To sum it all up, islamispeace does
admit that there were disagreement among Muslim scholars where some of them
believe Isaac was the son of sacrifice and not Ishmael. So, there are no
contradictions as far as those Muslim scholars are concern and they didn’t need
to resort to Jewish apocalyptic literature to disprove it.”
among Muslim scholars do not prove the Christian’s theories. He is simply making a leap of faith based on
childish logic. We refuted his appeal to
the contradictory traditions involving some Muslim scholars. Instead of actually responding to our points
or having the dignity and maturity to admit that he was wrong, the Christian
shamelessly tries to peddle the same irrational claims over and over again.
To close this rebuttal, let us once
again list all the issues which the Christian keeps ignoring:
- The meaning of the Hebrew word “hay-ye-led” is
- The status of Hagar as a legitimate wife of
- The absence of the story of Ishmael’s birth in the Dead Sea scroll
4Q225 (a clear attempt to eliminate the contradictory nature of the Biblical
- The promise/covenant with Isaac was made before Ishmael and
Hagar were sent out but after the “covenant of circumcision”.
- The status of Ishmael as a legitimate son of Abraham and a
member of his household even after the exile and at the time of the
- The Masoretic text of Genesis 22 is contradicted by the
Septuagint and other translations.
- The evidence from the Quran and authentic ahadith show that
the child of sacrifice was Ishmael (peace be upon him).
- Muhammad (peace be upon him) did indeed consider himself a
descendant of Ibrahim and Ishmael (peace be upon them).
- The disagreements among Muslim scholars are due to weak
narrations which often contradict themselves and each other.
Even if the Christian insists on living
in his denial, we hope that other, more reasonable readers will accept the
facts, and if these readers are Jews or Christians, we hope that they will have
the courage to admit that the Biblical story is self-contradictory, inshaAllah.
And Allah knows best!
also “Jews of Ethiopia: The Birth of an Elite”, Ed. Oliver Leaman, p. 193.
 “The History of Tabari”,
Volume 2: Prophets and Patriarchs, p. 86.