Ishmael part 1
by John Thomas Lowe
Ishmael was the first son of Abraham through the Egyptian Hagar, the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, and is venerated by Muslims as a prophet. According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137.
Children: Nebaioth, Basemath, Adbeel, Mibsam, Kedar, Mishma, Kedemah, Naphish, Jetur, Dumah, Tema, Hadad, Massa
Parents: Abraham, Hagar
In Islam, Ishmael (1781 BC - 1638 BC?) is known as the firstborn son of Abraham from Hagar and as an appointed prophet and messenger of God. It is believed that Ishmael lived between 120 to 143 years.
The name of the son who was supposed to be sacrificed is not mentioned in the Qur'an, and in early Islam, there was a fierce controversy over the identity of the son. However, the belief that it was Ishmael prevailed later.
In Islamic beliefs, Abraham had prayed to God for a son (Isma in Arabic means 'to listen,' i.e. answer prayer, and ell is derived from the Hebrew word el, meaning God). God delivered this child to Abraham and later tested Abraham's faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son at the time. However, just as Abraham was to kill his only son, God halted him, praised him for his loyalty, and commanded him to sacrifice a ram instead. This leads to the Muslim practice of sacrificing domesticated animals such as sheep, goats, or cows for the celebration to mark this event known as Eid ul-Adha.
Ishmael in the Qur'an
Ishmael is a highly regarded person in the Qur'an. Ishmael enjoined upon his people worship and almsgiving and was acceptable in the sight of his Lord
The Qur'an mentions Ishmael with other people like Elisha, Jonah, and Lot, who are considered righteous, good, or chosen
Abraham and Ishmael are said to have built the foundations of the Ka'aba). Meccans, and m.ost Arabs at the time of Muhammad, believed that Isma'il settled in Mecca, was their ancestor, and built with Abraham the Ka'ba, which they revered from old times.
The story of Abraham and his wives, Sarah and Hagar (Hajar in Arabic), plays an important role in Islamic tradition.
Abraham conceives a son with Hagar when Sarah is unable to bear children. Then, after many years, Sarah miraculously gives birth to Isaac. After some time, upon God's command, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael to the desert with God's promise of protection. The Quran takes a special interest in Hagar and her son, through whom Arabs trace their connection to Abraham. Each year during the Hajj (the ritual pilgrimage) in Mecca, pilgrims re-enact Hagar's desperate search for water for her infant son, running seven times between two hills and drawing water from the well of Zam Zam, said to have sprung miraculously from the dry earth at the baby Ishmael's feet. The whole story is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari.
Other references to Ishmael in the Qur'an
The Qur'an stresses twice that it does not make a distinction between the revelations by Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes (i.e., the sons of Jacob), and that which Moses and Jesus revealed, and that which other prophets received from their Lord.
Another reference where the name of Ishmael appears is where the Qur'an states that he was inspired in the same manner as prophets like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon. According to the Qur'an, God also inspired David to write the Psalms.
Descents of Ishmael
Muhammad is considered to be one of the many descendants of Ishmael. The oldest extant biography of Muhammad, compiled by Ibn Ishaq, and edited by Ibn Hisham, opens:
This book contains the life of the Apostle of God: Muhammad was the son ofAbd Allah, son of Abd-ul-Muttalib, son of Hashim, son of Abdu Manaf, son of Qusay, son of Kilab, son of Hakeem, son of Kaab, son of Luayy, son of Ghalib, son of Fihr, son of Malik, son of Qays, son of Kinanah, son of Khuzaymah, son of Mudrikah, son of Ilyas, son of Mudhar, son of Nizar, son of Maad, son of Adnan, son of Udd, son of Muqawwam, son of Nakhour, son of Tahir, son of Yarub, son of Yashyub, son of Nabit, son of Ismail (ishmael), son of Ibrahim, the Friend of God, son of Tarikh, son of Nakhour, son of Sarukh, son of Rau, son of Falih, son of Hud, son of Salih, son of Arphakhshad, son of Sham, son of Nuh/Noah, son of Lamekh, son of Matushalakh, son of Akhanukh, - who, as is believed, was the prophet Idris, the first prophet, and the first who wrote with the reed, - son of Aded, son of Mahlaleel, son of Kaynan, son of Anoush, son of Shays, son of Adam, to whom may God be gracious!
The Qur'an, however, does not have any genealogies. It was well-known among the Arabs that Quraysh were the descendants of Ishmael. It believed in one supreme God, circumcision, and other traditions such as pilgrimage common among Arabs as far as Yemen all point to the same conclusion.
According to the Bible (Gen. 25: 13-15), the sons of Ishmael were Nebajoth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.
Ishmael, Arabic Ismāʿīl, son of Abraham through Hagar, according to the three great Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. After the birth of Isaac, another son of Abraham, through Sarah, Ishmael and his mother were banished to the desert. After that, a minor figure in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity, Ishmael continued to play a foundational role in Islamic tradition, which holds that he settled in Mecca.
Ishmael was born and brought up in Abraham's household. Some 13 years later, however, Sarah conceived Isaac, with whom God established his covenant. Isaac became Abraham's sole heir, and Ishmael and Hagar were banished to the desert, though God promised that Ishmael would raise a great nation of his own.
Ishmael, commonly regarded by both Jews and Arabs as the ancestor of the Arabs, is considered a messenger and a prophet (rasūl nabī) in the Qurʾān. Though little is said about him in the Qurʾān itself aside from his designation as a prophet, it suggests that he assisted Abraham in building Islam's most sacred structure, the Kaaba, in Mecca. Most Islamic traditions about Ishmael come from other extra-scriptural sources, such as Hadith, tafsīr (Islamic exegesis), and qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ (stories of the prophets). According to the most well-known of these traditions, after Ishmael and Hagar were banished, they settled in Mecca, near which they had found relief and water at the Well of Zamzam. Later, in nearby Minā, Abraham attempted to sacrifice Ishmael (rather than Isaac, as stated in the Old Testament), an event commemorated on Eid al-Adha and in the rituals of the Hajj (pilgrimage).
Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Son of the maidservant Hagar, Ishmael was the firstborn and is considered the father of the Arabic nations. However, Isaac was chosen to carry on Abraham's legacy. Banished from his father's home, Ishmael had his ups and downs, but ultimately he repented and was considered righteous. Although we do not name children after the wicked Esau, some of the greatest Talmudic sages and high priests were named Ishmael.
Who was this mysterious and tragic figure?
Ishmael's life story is only hinted at in the biblical narrative, while much of his story is expounded in the Talmud and Midrash. So let us dig deeper into Ishmael's origins. Perhaps we will better understand him and why ultimately, Isaac was chosen over Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Nation of Israel.
Princess Hagar Becomes Sarah's Maidservant
When Abraham and Sarah arrived in the land of Canaan at God's behest, their promised destination was stricken with a severe famine, so Abraham decided to take his family to Egypt until the famine ended. Aware of the immorality of the Egyptians and Sarah's striking beauty, Abraham hid his wife away in a box, but she was discovered and taken to the king's palace. However, God sent an angel to ensure that Pharaoh would not have an opportunity to defile Sarah; whenever Pharaoh attempted to be with her, the angel would strike Pharaoh.
After Sarah's miraculous escape, Pharaoh gave Abraham and Sarah many gifts, and most importantly, he gave his daughter Hagar to Sarah as a maidservant. Pharaoh told his daughter, "It is better that you be a servant in Abraham's home than a princess in the land of Egypt."
Abraham Marries Hagar, and Ishmael is Born
When Abraham was 85 and Sarah 75, and they had been married for 60 years without having children,
Sarah selflessly decided to give her maidservant Hagar to Abraham so he could have children with her.
When Abraham was 86, Hagar gave birth to a baby boy named Ishmael ("God will hear"), as God had commanded her.
When Abraham was 99, God appeared to him and commanded him to circumcise himself and his offspring. Ishmael, 13, allowed his father to circumcise him without any objection.
At this time, God promised Abraham that Sarah would yet bear him a child, who would be named Isaac.
Sure enough, Sarah, who was barren, miraculously had a child a year later.