Islam is often portrayed by Christian fundamentalists as a cultural / religious force that is inherently opposed to Judeo-Christian beliefs. The truth is, Islam has its roots in the religious traditions of the Bible and this is demonstrated through Islams acceptance of the Israelite prophets. Muslims acknowledge that the righteous Israelites worshiped the One they call God and so, make no issue over the ethnicity of the Israelites. Islam places religion above the racial or ethnic identity, in the sense being Israelite or Arab makes no real difference.

We know that Abraham is accepted as a father figure to both Israelites (from whom emerged Judaism and Christianity) and the Ishmaelites (from whom emerged Islam.) In this regard, Ishmael is a bit of a curious case. He is the first son of the patriarch Abraham, yet not much is recorded about Ishmael. Christian theologians are quick to dismiss Ishmael as an enemy of the Israelites. They bring up the verses about Ishmael being a wild donkey of a man in order to cast Ishmael in a negative light. They also exaggerate Ishmaels childhood teasing of Isaac into some sort of a ‘feud’ between the brothers. From this comes the canard that Arab-Jewish rivalry goes back to thousands of years

The Ishmaelites/Kedarites mentioned in the bible, sometimes in a negative light, only refer to the (paganized) descendants of Ishmael and NOT the muslims who they would become much later, after Mohammads arrival. Furthermore, there is nothing in the bible that shows that Ishmael and Isaac were enemies. On the contrary, the brothers reunited for Abrahams funeral.

Another method Christian fundamentalists use to discount Ishmael is to point out that Isaac was chosen over Ishmael, to produce the messiah. This is a non-issue because Muslims accept Jesus, an Israelite as the messiah. In fact, Islam teaches that the Israelites were favored by God.

And thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of sayings and make His favor complete to you and to the children of Yaqoub, as He made it complete before to your fathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq; surely your Lord is Knowing, Wise.
-Koran 12:6

O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and that I made you excel the nations.
-Koran 2:47

With that said, Isaac being chosen for something does not mean Ishmael was cursed, as taught by Christian fundamentalists attempting to belittle Ishmael. The truth is that Ishmael was a son of Abraham, covered under the promise to Abraham and was himself blessed to become a great nation. He was one of the few people to have been named directly by God and was saved from death by God in the desert. Furthermore, God was “with” Ishmael as he was growing up. Can such a man really be an enemy of the Israelite? Only in the minds of Christian fundamentalists bent on vilifying Ishmael.

Given how Ishmaels bloodlines ultimately led to the “great nation” that made way for the arrival of Mohammad, it can be said that Ishmael had a prophetic role to play as well. This is confirmed by Isaiah 42’s prediction of a certain servant of God operating in Kedar and the “wilderness”. Detailed thread here

The wilderness which Ishmael was sent to was meant for great things, as it went on to become the land of Islams origin. Its important to understand that the ‘wilderness’ was never isolated from biblical events, but in fact was very much part of the geographical region in which biblical events took place. The first example which comes to mind is Mount Sinai, which is located in Arabia,(as stated by Paul in Galatians 4:25). Its also known that the Israelites had a presence in what is today Arabia. (See this link)

So its not surprising that from Ishmaels bloodline, emerged a prophet who fulfilled biblical prophecy. Mohammad basically reshaped the middle east by ending Arabia’s culture of idolatry and polytheism… and in its place, establishing a religion that worships the God of Abraham, acknowledges the prophets and accepts the messiahship of Jesus.