Was Abraham commanded to sacrifice Isaac or Ishmael?

Today most Muslims believe that Allah (SWT) commanded Abraham (AS) to sacrifice Ishmael (AS),  yet the Torah names the boy as Isaac (AS). Incredibly 38 of the companions of Muhammad (SAW) confirm the Jewish narrative and are recorded saying it was Isaac and not Ishmael.

Since its beginnings Islam’s finest scholars have debated which son Abraham was commanded to sacrifice, yet both Judaism and Christianity host no such discussion. The reason for this is simple, the Torah names Isaac multiple times, while Quran keeps the boy’s identity secret. In the absence of a name Muslim scholars sought answers from those who walked with Muhammad and it is their opinions that we wish to explore. 

Isaac Ishaq Yitzhak
Ishmael Ismail Yishmael
Five The Torah names the boy Isaac 5 times Zero The Quran leaves the boy nameless
38 Of Muhammad’s companions name the boy Isaac 28 Of Muhammad’s companions name the boy Ishmael
3 Ahadith state Abbas b. Abd alMuttalib heard the Prophet name the boy Isaac 0 There no ahadith where a Sahaba heard the Prophet naming the boy Ishmael
131 Opinions attributed to Muhammad’s companions name the boy Isaac 133 Opinions attributed to Muhammad’s companions name the boy Ishmael
The Prophet said in a conversation, “Then we ransomed him with a tremendous victim.” And he also said, “He is Isaac.” The ransomed one was Ishmael, but the Jews claimed it was Isaac. The Jews, however, are untruthful

Abu Kurayb – Zayd b. al-Hubab – al-Hasan b. Dinar – ‘Ali ibn Zayd b. Jud’an – al-Hasan – al-Ahnaf b. Qays – ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib

Yunnus b. Abd al-Ala – Ibn Wahb – Umar b. Qays – Ata b. Abi Rabah – Abdallah b. Abbas

What does scripture say?

Torah

Akedah – Genesis 22:1 – 18

After these events, God tested Abraham. “Abraham!” He said. “Yes?”, “Take your son, your only one, whom you love – Isaac, and go away to the Moriah area. Bring him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will designate to you”. Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took his two men with him, along with his son Isaac. He cut wood for the offering, and set out, heading for the place that God had designated. On the third day, Abraham looked up, and saw the place from afar. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go to that place. We will worship and then return to you”. Abraham took the offering wood and placed it on [the shoulders of] his son Isaac. He himself took the fire and the slaughter knife, and the two of them went together. Isaac spoke up to Abraham. “Father”, “Yes, my son?”, “Here is the fire and the wood. But where is the lamb for the offering?”, “God will see to a lamb for an offering, my son” replied Abraham.The two of them continued together. When they finally came to the place designated by God, Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood. He then bound his son Isaac, and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham reached out and took the slaughter knife to slit his son’s throat. God’s angel called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!”, “Yes?”, “Do not harm the boy. Do not do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God. You have not withheld your only son from Him”. Abraham then looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. He went and got the ram, sacrificing it as an all-burned offering in his son’s place. Abraham named the place  “God will See” (Adonai Yireh). Today, it is therefore said, “On God’s Mountain, He will be seen”. God’s angel called to Abraham from heaven a second time, and said, “God declares, ‘I have sworn by My own Essence, that because you performed this act, and did not hold back your only son, I will bless you greatly, and increase your offspring like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring shall inherit their enemies’ gate. All the nations of the world shall be blessed through your descendants – all because you obeyed My voice.'”

Quran

Dhabih – Suwar 37:99-113

And [then] he said, “Indeed, I will go to [where I am ordered by] my Lord; He will guide me. My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous”. So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy. And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast”. And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, “O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, And We left for him [favorable mention] among later generations: “Peace upon Abraham”. Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, he was of Our believing servants. And We gave him good tidings of Isaac, a prophet from among the righteous. And We blessed him and Isaac. But among their descendants is the doer of good and the clearly unjust to himself.

Which view is authentic?

Proving one opinion over the other is not our intention as both views have a legitimate home in the Islamic tradition. We’re simply encouraging those that say the Torah has been corrupted because it names the boy Isaac to go over the words of the Sahaba, as many of those that walked with Muhammad agreed with the Torah’s teaching.

If naming the Dhabih Allah was the purpose of this narrative the Quran would have included a name, but the name is left out as his identity is not as important as the message. 

The message

To modern man child sacrifice seems barbaric and evil, but at the time of the patriarchs child sacrifice was a common form of pagan worship. There is no greater sacrifice than giving up that which you most love, and in dark period many extended this to their own children. Without Abraham’s test many could have assumed child sacrifice an appropriate form of worshiping Allah. But Allah’s rejection of human sacrifice taught man that while we are to submit to Allah in total obedience, we must do so in ways that are pleasing to Him.

This biblical narrative helped eliminated an evil pagan ritual that was widespread in antiquities, but it also speaks to us, telling us to love our children, to care for them, teach them, and cherish them with all our heart.

Allah knows best.

Sources

We owe a huge debt to Reuven Firestone who identified the following muhaddithin as preservers of the traditions cited, Ibn Qutayba, al-Tabari, al-Tha’labi, al-Zamakhshari, al-Tabarsi, al-Kisa’i, Ibn al-Athir, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Jarir and Mujir al-Din.

Supporters of Isaac Supports of Ishmael
al’ Abbas b. ‘Abd alMuttalib and the Prophet (SAW) 3 Amir 2
al’ Abbas b. ‘Abd alMuttalib 8 ‘Amir b. Wa’ila (see also ‘Amir) 1
Abdallah b. Mas’ud 2 Abdallah b. ‘Umar(see also Ibn ‘Umar) 1
‘Abdallah b. Shaqiq 2 Abu ‘Abdallah (al’Abbas b. ‘Abd alMuttalib?) 2
Abd alRahman b. Abi Sabit 1 Abu Ja’far (including Abu Ja’far Muhammad. b. ‘Ali) 3
Abu Hudhayl 3 Abu Salih 2
Abu Hurayra + Ka’b 3 Abu alTufayl 3
Abu Malik 1 Ahmad b. Hanbal 2
Abu Maysara 3 Amru b. al’Ula 1
‘Ali b. Mas’ud 1 alDahhak 1
Husayn 1 Father of Ibn Abi Hatim 2
Ibn Abi Burka 1 Ibn Ishaq said heard Muhammad b. Ka’b alQurazi 4
Ibn Abi alHudhayl 1 alKalbi 2
Ibn Mas’ud 5 Muhammad b. Ka’b alQurtubi 1
Ibn Sabit 5 Mujahid + Ibn ‘Abbas 2
‘Ikrima 7 alRabi’ b. Anis 3
alJaba’i 1 Sa’id b. alMusayyib 6
Ka’b alAhbar 10 alSha’bi + Ibn ‘Abbas 5
Makhul 2 Yusuf b. Mihran 6
Masruq 8
alQasim 1
alQasim b. Abi Barra 1
alQasim b. Abi Yarza 1
Qatada 7
‘Ubayd b. ‘Umayr 3
‘Umar b. alKhattab 4
‘Uthman b. Abi Hadir 1
‘Uthman b. Hadir 1
alZuhri 4
Sub total 91 49
Both
‘Abdallah 1 1
‘Ali 7 2
‘Ata’ 4 4
alHasan alBasri 3 11
Ibn ‘Abbas 10 30
lbn ‘Umar 1 10
Mujahid 2 12
Sa’id b. Jubayr 5 4
alSha’bi 2 9
alSuddi 5 1
Sub total 40 84
Total 131 133

Comments

comments

24 thoughts on “Was Abraham commanded to sacrifice Isaac or Ishmael?

  1. Like it s said, name s not important what important is message!!! Rabbana taqabbal minna, innaka antas-samiulalim! Ameen!

  2. ONLY ONE SON WAS OFFERED FOR SACRIFIC

    Was he ISHMAEL – the Eldest Son of Abraham or ISAAC the Second Son – born 14 years later!!!

    God decided to test the faith of Abraham, He said;

    And He said, Take now thy son, thine only {son} _________, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Gen. 22:2

    There happens to be an unresolved, longer than a millennium old debate, as to who accompanied Prophet Abraham and submitted himself to the will of God – the first born – Ishmael – the progenitor of the prophet Muhammad, or the second born – Isaac – the progenitor of Jesus Christ? The Bible writers had placed the name of Isaac in the blank space above. Muslims believe Ishmael was the one that was taken by Abraham for the ‘Supreme Sacrifice’. Every year, Muslims throughout the world celebrate Id al-Adha as a day of festivity, recalling the courage and patience of Ishmael and the unwavering devotion of Abraham. There are judicious reasons to believe that this event happened in the life of prophet Abraham when Isaac was not yet born.
    We will now examine what the Bible and the Qur’an have to say on this controversial subject. After the sacrificial offering the Bible records;

    And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only {son} from me. Gen. 22:12

    And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only {son}, Gen. 22:16

    The word “only” is very significant in the above quoted three verses. In the Hebrew text the word used is “yachiyd” (not “echad”), which identifies absolute singularity – the one and only. The logical argument put forward is: God must have used the phrase “thine only {son}” during the period of fourteen years when Isaac was not yet born and Ishmael the Only Son of Abraham was old enough to accompany his father for the Sacrificial Offering. The Jews and Christians argue: being born to Hagar, a hand-maid of Abraham’s wife, Ishmael was recognized as the Descendant or the Seed of Abraham, but not as his Son. The following verse from their own Bible NEGATES their argument and declares ISHMAEL born to Hagar was called “a son”.
    And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. Gen. 16:15

    Christian scholars going to their second line of defense say: Ishmael, the Son of a bondwoman, was called Abraham’s Son at the time of his birth – but that was only for the time being. Ishmael lost the status of being the Son of Abraham the day Isaac was born to Abraham’s wife Sarah the freewoman. The Bible nowhere records losing of the acquired status. In fact, the biblical text quoted below, proves that in the sight of God the Creator, Ishmael was the Son of Abraham even after the death of his father Abraham.

    And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him (Abraham) in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which {is} before Mamre. Gen. 25:9

    The idea of a son losing his status probably comes from the cuneiform tablets exemplifying the law of the second and third millennium. The law states that a childless father could adopt a son to serve him in his old age. Should a son be born later to that man, the adopted son’s status as an heir would be altered. The answer to this Law of Adoption is: Ishmael was not adopted, he was fathered by Abraham. Hagar was the wife of Abraham records the Bible:

    Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. Genesis 16: 3
    The obvious question is, what are the reasons that in spite of these overwhelming evidences the name of Isaac appears in the blank space above? The descendants of Ishmael and Isaac (Arabs and Jews) have fought battles in the arenas of politics and religions since the day of a serious domestic quarrel in the house of Abraham. This Domestic Dispute led Sarah driving away Hagar and her son Ishmael.

    Tribal pride and deep rooted hatred for the enemy can make a person go to any lengths. In the history of mankind, false pride and jealousy have been the roots of many evils and untold sufferings. The Jewish scribes wrote the Book of Genesis. It is very probable that they would not have liked the idea that this singular honor of being offered for the Supreme Sacrifice go to the progenitor of their enemy – Ishmael – rather than their own patriarch – Isaac. The unyielding pride of Jewish priests made Jesus call them stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart.

    The Encyclopedia Judaica, volume number 9, under the heading “Ishmael”, records as under:

    It is related that a renowned traditionalist of Jewish origin from Qurayza tribe, and another Jewish scholar who converted to Islam, told Caliph Omar Ibn `Abd al-Azizi (717-20) that the Jews were well informed that Ismail (Ishmael) was the one who was bound (for sacrifice), but they conceal this out of jealousy.

    THE QUR’ANIC NARRATION
    A question is often asked: Does the name of Ishmael appear in the Qur’anic narration as the one that was offered for the Supreme Sacrifice? The answer is: No. The name of Ishmael does not appear in the text. However, the Qur’anic narration gives the sequence of events that happened before and after the sacrificial offering. These chronological events very precisely testify that Isaac was born after the event.

    Abraham pleads for a Son:

    “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 Constancy!” So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah) and He had laid Him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice). Qur’an 37:100/103.
    The good news for the birth of Isaac – a righteous prophet – comes much later. Hence, “they had both submitted” in the above verse refers to Abraham and his eldest Son Ishmael. The narration continues:

    We called out to him “O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice: and We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times: “Peace and salutation to Abraham!” Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. Qur’an 37:104/110.
    Muslims all over the world send “Peace and salutation” to prophet Abraham after their ritual prayers, five times a day. Continuing the history of Abraham, the Qur’an reveals:

    For he was one of Our believing Servants. And We gave him 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 own souls.
    Qur’an 37:111/113.

    The above verses clearly indicate that the incident of Supreme Sacrifice happened before the birth of Isaac and Ishmael was the “only Son” of Abraham, as mentioned in the Book of Genesis 22:2/12/16.

    • And He said, Take now thy son, thine only {son} _________,
      Please read the explanation we gave to Tahir below as we quote the Oral Law which had already answered this question long before the birth of Islam.

      The Encyclopedia Judaica, volume number 9, under the heading “Ishmael”, records as under:

      It is related that a renowned traditionalist of Jewish origin from Qurayza tribe, and another Jewish scholar who converted to Islam, told Caliph Omar Ibn `Abd al-Azizi (717-20) that the Jews were well informed that Ismail (Ishmael) was the one who was bound (for sacrifice), but they conceal this out of jealousy.
      This isn’t confirmation of the tradition, its simply recording a non-Jewish opinion.

      These chronological events very precisely testify that Isaac was born after the event.
      Again see our answer to Tahir, this is not a proof but an interpreted inference.

      We are not trying to convince you to abandon your view, as there are many great scholars who share it. We only request you look at the evidence through unbiased eyes and we hope that in doing so you will recognize that in the absence of a name, both positions should be respected as part of the Islamic tradition.

      Allah (SWT) knows best

  3. Dear Judaism-Islam,

    1) The Bible says, ‘take thy only son’ (Gen 22.2) Isaac was never his only son; Ishmael was his only son for 14 years. This one argument is irrefutable. The meaningfulness of the sacrifice was that it WAS his only son who had been given after hears of Abraham(pbuh) praying for a son, hence the name of Ishmael means: ‘The Lord hears’ (ie: hears prayers)

    2) The Qur’an explicitly states in the passage above that Isaac was given after the narration of the sacrifice, as a further reward for Abraham’s(as) willingness to sacrifice his son, for it says in the Qur’an that:

    ‘And the case of those who spend their wealth to seek the pleasure of Allah and to strengthen their souls is like the case of a garden on elevated ground. Heavy rain falls on it so that it brings forth its fruit twofold. And if heavy rain does not fall on it, then light rain suffices. And Allah sees what you do.” (2:266)

    Heritage and children are wealth and this verse clearly says that the fruit is brought twofold on such people who spend of it. The sacrifice of Ishmael(as) by Abraham(as) exactly resulted in this – the two fold doubling of his children, by Isaac.

    Regarding the hadith: when you have a certain number of hadith conflicting another number of hadith, there is no point even mentioning the hadith because even one authentic hadith trumps 1000 false hadith. If the hadith are in conflict you must go to the Qur’an or scripture. To say that the Torah isn’t corrupted because some hadith corroborate it is farcical because:

    1) The Qur’an itself says that the Torah is corrupted: “Woe, therefore, to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may take for it a paltry price. Woe, then, to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earn.” (2:80)

    2) There are thousands of hadith that are corrupted.

    Finally, to say at the end ‘it doesn’t matter who was sacrificed, only the message matters’ after producing a biased article saying that Isaac was sacrificed is also farcical. The message indeed matters but you do not seem to understand the underlying basis as to why Ishmael – who was the only son – was removed from the Torah and Isaac added. It was part of larger interpolations and redactions which aim at excluding Ishmael from outside the covenant of Abraham(as) and restricting the bounties of the covenant – the bounty being Prophethood – to the descendants of Isaac(as) through Jacob (as). Thus, the aim at these interpolations and redactions is to negate the claim of the Prophet Muhammad(saw) – the descendant of Ishmael(as) and to exclude him from the covenant that Abraham(as) made with God that his seed would prosper and be a source of the unity of God in the world. Thus, these interpolations are VERY important, for they lay the groundwork for the rejection by millions of the greatest Prophet(saw) on Earth.

    So please, when you write an article in the future, use your brains a little more. Thanks

    • Tahir, no offence was taken at your post, one must strive to cling to truth and we respect that this was your intention.

      Our goal is the same, to submit to Allah (SWT) and follow His teachings.

      1) The Bible says, ‘take thy only son’ (Gen 22.2) Isaac was never his only son; Ishmael was his only son for 14 years. This one argument is irrefutable. The meaningfulness of the sacrifice was that it WAS his only son who had been given after hears of Abraham(pbuh) praying for a son, hence the name of Ishmael means: ‘The Lord hears’ (ie: hears prayers)
      The Torah only records half the narration, the Oral Law (Criterion), records the full conversation:

      Allah (SWT): Take your son
      Ibrahim (AS): I’ve got two sons
      Allah (SWT): Your only son.
      Ibrahaim (AS): Each son is an only son to his mother.
      Allah (SWT): The one whom you love.
      Ibrahim (AS): But I love both of them.
      Allah (SWT): Ishaq.

      The Torah then goes on to name Ishaq (AS) another 4 times. The Talmud explains that the request followed this pattern so that Ibrahaim (AS) wouldn’t be startled by such an impossible task, allowing time for the idea to slowly sink in.

      The Qur’an explicitly states in the passage above that Isaac was given after the narration of the sacrifice, as a further reward for Abraham’s(as) willingness to sacrifice his son
      That is not an explicit statement? An explicit statement would be “Ibrahim (AS) took his son Ismail (AS) and as a reward was given a son Ishaq (AS)”, the Quran says no such thing, instead some scholars have interpreted the Quran to infer your theory from the placement of text, but many of Islams greatest scholars disagree with this view.

      Al-Tabari for instance says:

      As for the above-mentioned proof from the Quran that it really was Isaac, it is God’s word which informs us about the prayer of His friend Abraham when he left his people to migrate to Syria with Sarah. Abraham prayed, ‘I am going to my Lord who will guide me. My Lord! Grant me a righteous child.’ This was before he knew Hagar, who was to be the mother of Ishmael. After mentioning this prayer, God goes on to describe the prayer and mentions that he foretold to Abraham that he would have a gentle son. God also mentions Abraham’s vision of himself sacrificing that son when he was old enough to walk with him. The Quran does not mention any tidings of a male child given to Abraham except in the instance where it refers to Isaac, in which God said, ‘And his wife, standing by laughed when we gave her tidings of Isaac, and after Isaac, Jacob’, and ‘Then he became fearful of them’. They said. ‘Fear not!’ and gave him tidings of a wise son. Then his wife approached, moaning, and smote her face, and cried, ‘A barren old woman’. Thus, wherever the Quran mentions God giving tidings of the birth of a son to Abraham, it refers to Sarah (and thus to Isaac) and the same must be true of God’s words ‘So we gave him tidings of a gentle son’, as it is true of all such references in the Quran.

      There are many more opinions from the muhaddithin and companions we could bring, but our intention is not to convince you to change your mind.

      Our only intention is to show that many of the sahaba (RA) and Early Muslims (for instance Umar and al-Tabari) believed the son to be Ishaq (AS)… We do not know of any scholar who suggests otherwise.

      While there are some scholars who suggest many of the sahaba (RA)were deceived by Jews in believing it was Ishaq (RA), we are not aware of any opinion that suggest all 131 opinions are false.

      We obviously do not share this view, but we respect your position as legitimate and we would encourage you to extend us the same courtesy, the evidence is too great to simply dismiss.

      Allah (SWT) knows best.

  4. My apologies for my harsh words earlier; harsh words should never be used in any serious discussion. Please ignore them and forgive me.
    Many thanks

    (ps. My points still stand however)

  5. Thank you for your kind reply.

    With respect to your first point regarding the Talmud referred to as Oral Wisdom, the Talmud was compiled centuries and in many cases, over a millenium after the Law. Therefore it has no authority to be a commentary on the law of the Torah. In fact, Hadhrat Isa(as) specifically berates the Pharisees of his time for following the Talmud – the oral traditions, and making the law subservient to the Oral traditions. The same is the case in the Muslim world today unfortunately; though the hadith are a treasure of knowledge, they should never be preferred over the Qur’anic statements regarding these matters. In face of such divergent views in the hadith regarding who was the son sacrificed, it is necessary for a Muslim to seek guidance from the Qur’an. The Qur’an, as you have pointed out, narrates Isaac’s birth in a sequence after the sacrifice, indicating that only Ishmael could have been the sacrifice. It is meaningless to refer to those hadith which support the view that Isaac was sacrificed, as I can just as easily point to those hadith that say the opposite. I am not saying that those Sahaba were wrong – I am saying that the hadith themselves may have been fabricated. Thousands of hadith have been fabricated, and with large numbers of conversions from Jews to Muslims over the first 3 centuries of Islam, it is not inconceivable by any stretch of the imagination that Ishmael was changed to Isaac in some hadith – not intentionally perhaps, but simply due to lack of knowledge regarding Islam.

    Moreover, the words: ‘we gave him the glad tidings of a forebearing son'(37:102) occur before the sacrifice. Then the sacrifice is narrated. Then come the words: ‘And we gave him the glad tidings of Isaac, a Prophet and one of the righteous.’ So two glad tidings are given – one prior to the sacrifice which is ambiguous as to who it refers to and one after the sacrifice, explicitly in reference to Isaac. What is the sense in narrating the glad tiding of Isaac after the sacrificial event if it was already mentioned prior to the sacrificial event? This one proof should be proof enough, for needless repetition is extraneous and a mark of poor language use.

    Regarding the quotation you have put up of Al-Tabari, though he is a most renowned scholar indeed, to say that whenever God gave glad tidings of a son, it was only in reference to Isaac is wrong. It clearly states in 37:101-102 ‘ “My Lord, grant me a righteous son. So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing son.”‘ Now you could say, well this is the very reference to Isaac prior to the sacrifice, however just as it does not explicitly state Ishmael as the son, neither does it refer to Isaac as the son. So this reference could well be to Ishmael if indeed Ishmael was the son to be sacrificed. To call this a reference to Isaac as glad tidings regarding a son only ever referred to him, and then to say that the sacrifice must therefore refer to Isaac is a circular argument. You have used an assumption (that glad tidings only refer to Isaac) to prove a second assumption (he was the one sacrificed) to support your initial assumption!

    Furthermore, the lack of any commemoration of the sacrifice of Isaac among the Jewish people and the presence of the Eid ul Adha – the commemoration of the sacrifice among the descendants of Ishmael, lends weighty support to the view that Ishmael was the sacrificed one. Though the Jewish people have a festival of sacrifice (Korban), it is not specifically commemorating the sacrifice of Isaac, but is a festival of general application to sacrifice. Moreover, Rosh Hashana ostensibly is said to commemorate the sacrifice of Isaac, though it is not exclusive to that, but also commemorates the creation of Mankind and God’s kingship.

    • the Talmud was compiled centuries and in many cases, over a millenium after the Law. Therefore it has no authority to be a commentary on the law of the Torah.
      If you accept the Quran’s statement that an Oral Law was given to Musa (AS), then it can only be referring to the Talmud, as Banu Yisrael have an unbroken chain of narration and nothing else has ever claimed to be the knowledge received by Musa (AS). Christians, Karaites and Sadducees all reject the very notion of an Oral Law.

      Similarly, Muhammad (SAW) makes no mention of this ‘criterion’ being lost; only that some of Banu Yisrael penned their own books. Orthodox Jews agree with this statement and believe the Samaritans, Essenes, Sadducees, etc. penned books that took people away from the true teachings of Musa (AS).

      It is meaningless to refer to those hadith which support the view that Isaac was sacrificed, as I can just as easily point to those hadith that say the opposite. I am not saying that those Sahaba were wrong – I am saying that the hadith themselves may have been fabricated.
      I mean this with the greatest respect, but are you qualified to rule on the authenticity of ahadith?

      The reason I make such a bold statement is that:

      • Ibn Qutaybah
      • al-Tabari
      • al-Thalabi
      • al-Zamakhshari
      • al-Tabarsi
      • al-Kisa’i
      • Ibn Jarir
      • Ibn al-Athir
      • Ibn Kathir
      • Mujir al-Din

      Listed the 131 traditions that recorded Ishaq (AS) as the victim. What information do you have that they lacked? The isnad for both arguments is evenly matched, and there are actually more sahaba (RA) that believe it was Ishaq (AS).

      Many of the early muslims that shared your view. go out of their way to state the victim may also have been Ishaq (AS), e.g. al-Ya’qubi.

      Regarding the quotation you have put up of Al-Tabari, though he is a most renowned scholar indeed, to say that whenever God gave glad tidings of a son, it was only in reference to Isaac is wrong. It clearly states in 37:101-102 ‘ “My Lord, grant me a righteous son. So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing son.”‘ Now you could say, well this is the very reference to Isaac prior to the sacrifice, however just as it does not explicitly state Ishmael as the son, neither does it refer to Isaac as the son. So this reference could well be to Ishmael if indeed Ishmael was the son to be sacrificed. To call this a reference to Isaac as glad tidings regarding a son only ever referred to him, and then to say that the sacrifice must therefore refer to Isaac is a circular argument.
      al-Tabari is suggesting that because in all cases except this one the Quran is referring to Ishaq (AS), then this must also be reference Ishaq (AS).

      Though the Jewish people have a festival of sacrifice (Korban), it is not specifically commemorating the sacrifice of Isaac, but is a festival of general application to sacrifice.
      Jewish festivals don’t commemorate events unique to individuals

      1. Pesach, commemorates Banu Yisrael’s redemption from Egypt
      2. Shavuot, commemorates Banu Yisrael recieving the Torah
      3. Rosh Hashana, is a new year for everyone
      4. Yom Kippur, is a day of judgement for everyone
      5. Sukkot, commemorates Banu Yisrael’s wandering in the desert for 40 years.

      However, religious Jews recite the Torah’s narrative of the sacrifice of Ishaq (AS) every single morning!

      I’m going to request we agree to disagree, we respect your position entirely and acknowledge you are in the company of some of the finest scholars Islam has known. But there are also scholars of equal stature that believe the victim to be Ishaq (AS) and we’re simply requesting their opinion is respected.

      Allah (SWT) knows best.

  6. Muslims in Israel are free and equal citizens. They can openly practice Islam, run for public office, own property and have their own party in Knesset. Jews in Iran enjoy NONE of the above freedoms. They are unequal, unwanted, ridiculed, persecuted and murdered. Muslims in Israel are equal citizens. Jews in Iran are social and political pariahs, unable to partake in the most basic human and social freedoms. This alleged “partnership” is not even a dream. It is an illusion.

    The government of Iran has vowed to “wipe Israel off the map.” Each “Al Quds Day,” Iranians vocally despise Jews, Zionists and Israel. They deny the veracity of the Holocaust and they promise to annihilate the Jews “who occupy Israel.”

    Jews have had a presence in Israel for 3,000 years, since the exodus from Egypt. This predates Muslims there by 1,000 years and it predates Palestinians there by 1,500 years. Jews have been the only group of people to occupy Israel continuously since BC, yet Iran calls Jews “occupiers.” How is that possible?

    Israel, meanwhile, has vowed to destroy no nation and no group of people. Israel has never launched a pre-emptive attack against a neighboring nation, despite the fact that every Muslim nation surrounding Israel has launched an attack against the Jewish state.

    You propose an Israel/Iran combination? I would love to see it happen. But really… are you kidding? That would be like asking Hitler if he would like to become a free and equal partner with the Jewish people. How ridiculous is that?

    Charles S. Weinblatt
    Author, “Jacob’s Courage: A Holocaust Love Story”
    http://jacobscourage.wordpress.com

    • mrs:Charles Weinblatt in responding to what you have said of that jews in iran are social and political pariahs, unable to partake in the most basic human and social freedoms i say that is has a political reasons spesificly in iran, and by adressing to iran you should know that iranian people are chiites in general and you can not judge a relegion basing on one countrey who has problems with israel in the first place, and finally you should know that islam and god in his quran speaks to muslim and all people to live in peace every one with his opinions

      second;you said that Israel, meanwhile, has vowed to destroy no nation and no group of people. Israel has never launched a pre-emptive attack against a neighboring nation, despite the fact that every Muslim nation surrounding Israel has launched an attack against the Jewish state.well did you forget what is happening in ghaza striking civilians women and children!!! and you forgot what is happening in quds-jerusalem_ palestinian have no rights they can not even pray in the mosques without getting arrested or beated to death!!!

      .and in examening the history of islam you will find that profet mohammed in madina (yathrib) put a law in the first days after alhidjra(the travel from mekka to almadina),in it he ordred The Muslim to live with a non-Muslim of the Jews and Christians in peace and Equality therfore i encourage you to study the problem from diffrent views before judging islam the problem has always existed and will always be until the end of the world

  7. It is Ismaael not Isaac all of them are prophets peace be upon them

  8. that is also a secret of god to put this struggle between muslims and jewish and that will continue to the end of days when quds will be regained and when jewish can not find a place to hide or run to. the trees and stones will speak and god will judge every men for what they did in life . brother you are well thanked for puting this question but it really doesnt matter who was the son of abraham that was going to be sacrificed with. they are all profets peace be upon them .and we as muslims respect all relegions and profets .

  9. In the verses of Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son. As all scholars of Islam, Judaism and Christianity agree, Ishmael was born before Isaac. From this, it would not be fit to call Isaac the only son of Abraham. “So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. And when (his son) was old enough to help in his daily affairs, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So look, what think you? He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded. God willing, you shall find me of the patient.” (Quran 37:101-102)

    “And when they both submitted (to the command of God), and he (Abraham) laid him (Ishmael) face down upon his forehead (in order to be sacrificed).” (Quran 37:103)

    It was Ishmael. Bu never mind. I think this article should be deleted, coz it only leads to debates and discussions!

  10. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0122.htm
    gen 22:2 clearly shows Isaaac, people should quote full verse , but verse 5 is strange in the sense it shows at least two young men?
    Genesis Chapter 22 בְּרֵאשִׁית
    2 And He said: ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’
    ג וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר, וַיַּחֲבֹשׁ אֶת-חֲמֹרוֹ, וַיִּקַּח אֶת-שְׁנֵי נְעָרָיו אִתּוֹ, וְאֵת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ; וַיְבַקַּע, עֲצֵי עֹלָה, וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלֶךְ, אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר-אָמַר-לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים. 3 And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he cleaved the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
    ד בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי, וַיִּשָּׂא אַבְרָהָם אֶת-עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא אֶת-הַמָּקוֹם–מֵרָחֹק. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
    ה וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל-נְעָרָיו, שְׁבוּ-לָכֶם פֹּה עִם-הַחֲמוֹר, וַאֲנִי וְהַנַּעַר, נֵלְכָה עַד-כֹּה; וְנִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, וְנָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men: ‘Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship, and come back to you.’
    ו וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָהָם אֶת-עֲצֵי הָעֹלָה, וַיָּשֶׂם עַל-יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ, וַיִּקַּח בְּיָדוֹ, אֶת-הָאֵשׁ וְאֶת-הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת; וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם, יַחְדָּו. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son;

  11. This is the second ignorant article I read on this site. I hope this is not intentional but I can’t help but to think so. The 5th pillar of Islam, Haj, is entirely based on Ibrahim’s/ Isamil and Hajar’s story so no one in the Muslim world actually disputes the fact that Ismail was in fact the sacrificial son. Yes, rare opinions exist, but they certainly are not considered.

    I’m not a Muslim scholar. I’m just regular Muslim.

    I can know of two indications, one from the prophet Mohd peace be upon him and the other one from the Quran itself!

    First:
    In the Quran, Chapter #37 “Al Safat” verse 99 onward: Ibrahim, peace be upon him prays to God to grant him a son and God answers his prayer in the next verse.In the verse right after that God tells the story of the sacrifice starting with “when he (that child) reached “Al Sae” with him (Ibrahim) he told him: dear son I saw myself sacrificing you in a vision ..” and so the story goes on

    It is clear from the above that the story was about Ibrahim’s FIRST BORN which was Ismail. Evidence? Ibrahim’s prayer at the start of the verse.

    Second:
    I dont recall the exact text (and too lazy to look it up, unless someone challenges me), you can find it if you search. In more than one Hadith the prophet mentions that he’s the son of “both” sacrifices. Ismail, which you already know and dispute, and Abdullah, our prophet’s father. The story of how Abdullah’s father (the prophet’s grandfather) made a pledge to God that if he grants him 10 sons he would sacrifice the last one for God’s glory is well documented.

    I question the purpose of this article. God will judge us all.

    Peace be on those who follow the right path.

    • Assalaamu alaykum wa-rahmatullahi wa-barakatuh,

      The 5th pillar of Islam, Haj, is entirely based on Ibrahim’s/ Isamil and Hajar’s story so no one in the Muslim world actually disputes the fact that Ismail was in fact the sacrificial son.

      If I hadn’t read it with my own eyes I would believe you brother, but
      Ibn Qutaybah, al-Tabari, al-Thalabi, al-Zamakhshari, al-Tabarsi, al-Kisa’i, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Athir, Ibn Kathir and Mujir al-Din all put forward versions where Ishaq (AS) was the dhabih Allah.

      It is clear from the above that the story was about Ibrahim’s FIRST BORN which was Ismail. Evidence? Ibrahim’s prayer at the start of the verse.

      In sura 37:101 it says “So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy.”, it is this verse that gives the context of the sacrifice. The episode of the sacrifice is closed by sura 112 which states “And We gave him good tidings of Isaac“. Al-Tabari uses this as a proof that the sacrifice must have been Ishaq because the Quran only mentions tidings when referencing Ishaq.

      But this has been debated by greater men than you or I, there is nothing new either of us can add to the debate. May our intention be recognised by Allah SWT as sincere, for only He knows best.

      May Allah SWT guide us to the right path.

  12. Are there any Jewish/Christian traditions naming the sacrificial son as Ishmael?

    The reason I ask is that I studied for a year at Norfolk House, an Anglican-ethos preparatory school in London, UK. In our “Scripture” class, the textbook was “The Patriarchs” (part of a series that also included “The Palestine of Jesus”). This Judaeo-Christian textbook, to my immense surprise as someone who had already memorised the Qur’an by then, named Ishmael as the sacrifical son.

    And yes, conversely, the view that Isaac was the sacrificial son is a well-known one in the Islamic tradition, albeit a controversial one.

  13. PS Thank you for a very interesting project and website – may Allah bless your efforts!

    There is a hadith, “The sacrificial son was Isaac” (al-dhabihu Ishaq) – its authenticity is, of course, disputed.

    Ditto with the hadith that one of the commenters above is referring to, “I am the son of two sacrificial sons” – referring to Ishmael and Abdul Muttalib. Authenticity disputed again.

  14. “coz it only leads to debates and discussions!”

    Is that a BAD thing?! If there’s anything revealing the differences between Jews and Muslims, this is it.

  15. does it matter whether abraham sacrificed isaac and banished ishmael, or the other way around? whats important it what it says later “and abraham died and was buried by isaac and ishmael his sons.” isaac and ishmael will be at peace when they can finally bury the abusive patriarch, the religion that demands that we sacrifice are children to it or banish them in its name…

  16. I think that Abraham was never commanded to sacrifice his Son, either Isaac or Ishmael, because such a command would contradict the very nature of God, who is a loving, caring and merciful Father of life.
    That could have been very much an early misconception of Abraham, thinking that he had to show his devotion to God in the way of a human sacrifice, commanded by dark gods of Mesopotamia.
    I think the only divine order he had from God in this case, the voice which said in his heart, that Abraham, do not kill your Son.
    This opinion is in concordance with the Ten Commandments which says that You shall not kill, and with the letter of James which says: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

Was Abraham commanded to sacrifice Isaac or Ishmael?