Abraham and Ishmael

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Abraham and Ishmael

According to Islamic tradition, Abraham is born in Mesopotamia and later marries Sarah. Sarah has a maidservant Hagar and because she, Sarah, is old and barren she permits Abraham to sleep with Hagar. Hagar becomes pregnant and has a son Ishmael – and God appears to tell her that her son will be a great leader of 12 sons or nations. Whilst Hagar is still breast feeding, Sarah becomes jealous and drives them away.

 Abraham takes Hagar and Ishmael to Mecca – a desert at the time, leaves them and returns to Sarah (now in Syria). Hagar’s milk dries up, they run out of water and are near death. The angel Gabriel arrives and rubs the earth with his heel. Ishmael copies the angel’s actions and immediately water flows. So much water erupts that Hagar has to dam the flow – this is now the famous well of Zamzam at the centre of Mecca.

Abraham continues to visit Hagar and his son, riding his magical horse Buraq aback and forth to Mecca, always returning to Sarah before nightfall. Ishmael grows in to a young boy and then Abraham tells him that he has received a vision from God instructing him to sacrifice his son. Ishmael demands that his father follow God’s instructions and instructs Abraham to tighten his bonds and protect his clothes so that the blood won’t soil them and upset Hagar. He tells his father to sharpen the knife so that he will die quickly and to lie him face down so that he can’t look into his eyes and be unable to complete his task.

 

 

 

 

God stops Abraham from killing his son and a ram is slaughtered in his place.

When Ishmael grew up, he and his father built the Kaba, the square black structure around which millions of Muslims circumambulate during the annual Hajj. Mecca is off limits to non-Muslims.

 

You may well be familiar with this story as it is also represented in the Bible - though in the Old Testament, Sarah finally has a son Isaac and it is he that Abraham is asked to sacrifice.

There are many stories from the Old Testament that are shared between the three 'People's of the Book'. However, the Old Testament is not one of Islam's sacred texts. They believe that when God handed down the Bible to the prophets it was a pure sacred text. Later Jews and Christians corrupted it and so it is now considered 'damaged goods'.

 

 

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