Not possible, from an historical, geographical and logical point of view. By Jesse Toler
The body of this paper will deal primarily with places and destinations, not theology or personality. I will examine the Biblical accounts of Abraham in the natural and sequential order in which they are preserved in the Bible, while I examine and compare a small sampling of the similarities and differences in the Qur’an and other Islamic sources. In doing so, I'll point out the several fatal contradictions in the Islamic perspective and leave the reader to determine whether the Islamic version is truth to be believed or fable created to connect a pagan Arabian shrine to the Biblical patriarch of the Israelites. I will cover the ancient evidence and promptly dismember Islamic dogma as inauthentic and based on inadequate grounds. In the end, it will be hard to ignore that the Biblical account is far more reliable and historically accurate and that the Islamic version is mere conjecture imagined in the mind of a suicidal poet of the seventh century.
Nothing is more important to the foundations and development of Islam than the re-casting of Biblical personalities into newly assigned roles as devout Muslims. Shaping Israelite patriarchs into ancient Muslims who worshiped Muhammad’s god is step one. Turning the Lord Christ into a minor image of Muhammad was step two, and worldwide conquest which wars against the soul is now a real possibility [Peter ; Revelation 11:7, 12:7]. While the claims against the Bible are similar to those put forward in Mormonism, and falsified just as easily, both Muslims and non-Muslims need to be reminded that the books of the Bible are the measuring stick to evaluate the historicity and integrity of Muhammad’s often fictional portrayals of these ancient and important people.
Why did the Kaaba play a central role in Muhammad’s fantasies? While no historical facts support his claims, Muslims are seldom deterred. Islam is built upon the notion that Abraham was not only a Muslim [Q. ] but that he was selected by Allah to build the Kaaba in
The Kaaba in
Reconstructing ancient events in search for truth is never an easy task, but within the literature handed down from the earliest days, confirmed by corroborating testimony where it is available, certainty looms dreadful for Islamic claims. For example, American scholars such as Albright have discussed the groupings of people and popular migration patterns into and around cultivated areas of the Fertile Crescent, and it is nigh impossible to think that the barren wasteland of the Hijaz would be such a destination for Mesopotamian travelers. Crossing over from Ethiopian lands may be plausible, but Abraham was never in
Respected biblical scholars have placed the journeys of the patriarchs in the Middle Bronze Age [2000-1550 B.C.] and this would include the relevant chapters in the Book of Genesis [Chapters 12-50] as well as the narrative accounts in both the Qur’an and Tradition of the Muslims. In this paper, I will present the narrative from the Book of Genesis, chapters twelve thru twenty-five, as those speak specifically of the travels of Abraham from his calling to his death. Let’s introduce a few of the Islamic fables first, take a close look at the Bible, then we’ll touch upon a few more Islamic myths before closing. That will complete the comparison, and the reader can decide which is believable and which is not.
One Islamic tradition holds that Abraham brought both Hagar and Ishmael to Mecca [ Source: Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 584] then returned to Canaan after leaving both Hagar and her infant son in the uninhabited region of Arabia which would later serve as the ground for a building used to quarter the idols of the Kaaba. However, Sam Shamoun points out in ‘Ishmael is not the Father of Muhammad’ that eminent scholar Alfred Guillaume has written,
‘"... there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca, and if there had been such a tradition it would have to be explained how all memory of the Old Semitic name Ishmael (which was not in its true Arabian form in Arabian inscriptions and written correctly with an initial consonant Y) came to be lost. The form in the Qur’an is taken either from Greek or Syriac sources." (Alfred Guillaume, Islam [Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1956], pp. 61-62).
Another tradition holds that Muhammad himself is said to have told his favorite wife Aisha that, “Had not your people been still close to the pre-Islamic period of ignorance I would have dismantled the Kaaba and would have made two doors in it; one for entrance and the other for exit”. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 128].
So much for the importance of the Kaaba. Yet, we are to believe that the Meccan prophet held the Kaaba in the highest esteem, and believed it had been built and rebuilt after a revelation from Allah.
Let’s examine the Bible and see what we can gather about Abraham, his journeys as agent of Yahweh among the nations and his role as a channel for God’s blessing to the world.
What does the Bible tell us of Abraham, and is it possible that he had spent time in
Next, a famine struck Canaan, and Abraham sought refuge by going ‘down to
Abraham later left
Next we find that Abraham had been living in Canaan for ten years, traveling about Canaan as seasonal weather patterns required [Genesis 16], when he became impatient with God’s plan and took Hagar as a second 'wife'. The same Hebrew word is used in 16:3 to describe both Sarai and Hagar as wife. However, the status of Hagar is debatable. Follow this link for a fuller discussion on 'Hagar in Abraham's Household'. The Egyptian maid conceived, in Canaan, and bore Abraham's son, in
After the establishment of the Covenant of Circumcision, we find Abraham talking to God under the ‘holy tree of Mamre’, which is near
Following the destruction of
Isaac is later weaned and tension again increases between Sarah and Hagar. Sarah pleaded with Abraham to cast Hagar out, and the following morning she was given bread, a water skin and her son. She then wandered into the wasteland of Beer-Sheba, in southern
Before we leave Hagar to history, let me remind you of four important differences between the Bible and Qur’an surrounding this narrative. In the Biblical narrative, Hagar’s suffering and plight are of paramount importance to understanding the events surrounding the birth of the Promised Son. These events also give us insight into the treatment of women in the ancient Near East, which are still evident in Islam today. Hagar is the only woman in the Scriptures who is given the honor of giving a name to God, and she receives her own distinct covenant as a reward for her suffering and submission. What does the Qur’an say about this incredible woman who endured so much suffering? Nothing. So much for Islam honoring its pivotal women.
Eventually, Ishmael settled in the Wilderness of Paran, and took an Egyptian wife. Just where is the Wilderness of Paran, and does it, as Muslims claim, include the lands far to the south in the Hijaz? Let’s again look at our atlas. Paran is an ill-defined term in the Old Testament, suggesting that outside of it being a place on the route of the Exodus [Numbers 12:16], the region had very little geographical or theological importance to the Israelites. There is no prophetic scripture suggesting that a prophet would come from the Wilderness of Paran, nor a promise of prophetic license promised to Hagar or her descendants [Gen 16:7-16]. It is also worth noting that God spoke to Hagar, never to Ishmael. Very curious.
Located in the Sinai, Midian and
Following God’s expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael, life continues for Abraham and his only wife Sarah. A disputed well becomes a source of controversy with King Abimelech. This name may translate 'Slave of Molech'. If this Biblical name were a derivative of the Canaanite name, that would serve as strong evidence that much of the Book of Genesis pre-dates Israel's Kingdom Period and gives even greater evidence to the non-existence of Mecca during the period of Abraham's travels, and an oath is sworn in Beersheba, again in Canaan [Genesis 21:22-34]. Later, Abraham is called to
Soon, we find that Sarah had died, and Abraham arranges for the purchase of the
This all leads us to a connection with the nation of Israel, the Davidic Kingdom and the Savior who even now offers mercy to his wandering sons [ Psalm 100:5,8; Luke 1:50; cf. Apology of al-Kindy, p.121].