1. The Bible tells us that Ishmael, son of Abraham through his second wife Hagar (Genesis 16:3), was sent away with his mother to the ”east” where he settled and started his own family. We also read that Abraham was distressed when he was asked to send Ishmael away(Genesis 21:11-13) and that God was ”with” Ishmael as he was growing up (Genesis 21:20).

Though the Bible mentions nothing about Ishmael’s life as an adult, it does record that Ishmael was present at Abraham’s funeral (Genesis 25:9). From this event, the following can be gathered:
a) Ishmael maintained a close bond with his father and step-brother. How else could he have heard of Abraham’s passing? And why else would he travel back to the land of his birth to attend a funeral?
b) Ishmael was most certainly worshiping the God of Abraham; he did not return to bury Abraham as a polytheist/idolater. The same cannot be said of Abraham’s other sons through Keturah, as they were not present at the funeral.
c) Ishmael would have certainly raised his children to worship the God of Abraham; he would have established a community of monotheists away from the land of Canaan where Abraham and Isaac lived.

2. Abraham did not send Ishmael away and forget about him. Rabbinic traditions and the 21st chapter of the Book of Jasher (referred to in 2Samuel 1:18 and Joshua 10:13) mention Abraham’s travels to the land where Ishmael lived. In summary:

Afterward Abraham went to see Ishmael, and, according to his promise to Sarah, stopped at his son’s tent without alighting from his camel. Ishmael was not within; his wife refused Abraham food, and beat her children and cursed her husband within Abraham’s hearing. Abraham thereupon asked her to tell Ishmael when he returned that an old man had asked that he change the peg of the tent. Ishmael understood that it was his father, took the hint, and drove away his wife. He then married another woman, named Faṭimah, who, when three years later Abraham came again to see his son, received him kindly; therefore Abraham asked her to tell Ishmael that the peg was good.
Source: Jewish encyclopedia

3. That Abraham traveled to meet Ishmael is in harmony with the Islamic belief that Abraham built the Kaaba along with Ishmael (Surah 2:127); this event implies that Abraham was physically present with Ishmael in Arabia. Thus, Abraham came to be known in Arabia during the lifetime of Ishmael. The later Arabs fell into idolatry and venerated Abraham, indicating that they had retained the memory of Abraham being their distant ancestor. According to a hadith (Bukhari volume 4, book 55, number 571) the Kaaba, upon conquest by Mohammad, was found to contain images of Abraham and Ishmael – obviously placed by pre-Islamic Arabs.

4. Abraham – through Ishmael – is thus historically linked to the the Kaaba, the Arabs and Islam. There is no denying that the Arabs, like the Israelites, had fallen into idolatry and polytheism; that changed in the 7th century AD when Mohammad conquered Mecca and restored to Arabia the monotheistic worship of the God of Abraham.

Advertisements