Muslims are not Descendants of Abraham
Excerpted from the author’s, Understanding Islam in the Light of Christianity—a treasure trove of biblical truth, theological insight, and practical application (Dr. Ed Hindson, Dean of Divinity, Liberty University).
The Muslim Claim to Fame. Although Arabic Muslims claim Abraham as their heir, biblically they are descendants of pre-covenant Abram, the one who disobeyed God and disbelieved His promise of an heir through Sarah. God could bless Ishmael, but He could never establish His covenant with a sinful seed of the flesh.
Ishmael became the father of 12 Arabian princes (nations) whom God said that He would “multiply . . . exceedingly” (Genesis 17:20). Ishmael and Hagar were driven into the Wilderness of Paran to dwell (Genesis 21:20-21). This wilderness covers the eastern Sinai and the southern and southeastern borders of present-day Israel.
Ishmael’s sons initially inhabited an area from Egypt and the Sinai Desert, the Arabian peninsula to Assyria (which includes present day Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and the lesser Arab kingdoms). Remember, God said that Ishmael and his descendants would be wild men whose hand would be “against every man.”
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. –Galatians 3:29
According to the Apostle Paul, in the above scripture, other than being an Israelite, the only way one can be an heir of Abraham in through faith in Jesus Christ.
Some Bible translations of Genesis 25:18 state that the descendants of Ishmael “lived in hostility toward” or “in defiance of” all their brethren (New International Version, New Living Translation and North American Standard). Other versions (including the King James, New King James and Amplified Bibles) state only that Ishmael’s descendants lived “close to” or “in the presence of” their relatives.
Over 25 centuries later, Muhammad and his followers have found a simple solution to this dilemma of a negative biblical image and how to expropriate God’s promise and covenant with the Jewish people. Muhammad simply revealed that Allah told him that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, that Allah chose to test Abraham’s faith; and therefore it was Ishmael and all those who are descendants of him that are the true chosen people to fulfill Allah’s covenant.
Remember, in Genesis 22:2, God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on a makeshift altar on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. However, Muhammad ignored that biblical reality and declared that Allah called Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael on Mount Mina outside Mecca. It was that simple to change historical truth and create an alternate reality that Muslims have believed for 14 centuries.
According to the Qur’an, Abraham prayed to Allah: “‘My Lord! Grant me [a son who shall be] of the doers of good deeds [that is, righteous].’ So We gave [Abraham] the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when [Ishmael] attained to working with him, [Abraham] said: O my son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see.
“He said: O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones. So when they both submitted and [Abraham] threw [Ishmael] down upon his forehead, and We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim! You have indeed shown the truth of the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good: Most surely this is a manifest trial” (surah 37:100- 106). More information on Islam as a non-Abrahamic faith occurs in the following chapter.
God did not Recognize Ishmael as Abraham’s Son. The preceding version in the Qur’an of Abraham’s call to sacrifice his son strongly contradicts the biblical story. “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about’” (Genesis 22:2; author’s emphasis). Notice that God refers to Isaac as Abraham’s only son. That is because only Isaac was God’s choice to fulfill His covenant with Abraham—not Ishmael, the son of the flesh.
In Genesis 22, God told Abraham three times that he (Abraham) only had one son, Isaac. “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you’” (Genesis 22:2, author’s emphasis).
Again, after Abraham followed God’s call to sacrifice his only son, God intervened when he saw Abraham’s faithfulness. “And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12, NKJV, author’s emphasis). Once again, “Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son’” (Genesis 22:15-16, NKJV, author’s emphasis).
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” –Hebrews 11:17-18
In the Genesis account, Isaac had no prior knowledge of his role in the sacrifice.
“But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’
“And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’
“Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’
“And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’” (Genesis 22:7-8a).
Because of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son and not withhold him from God, God promised Abraham that “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me” (Genesis 22:18).
From the present day and historical perspective of the daily violence against mankind by the followers of Islam, it is hard to see that this was God’s plan for blessing the nations of the earth through the descendants of Ishmael. Among the descendants of Isaac, however, was Jesus, the sacrificial lamb who brought salvation to the world by the shedding of His blood and not that of another human being—truly a blessing to all who will receive Him.
The Apostle Paul affirmed that descendants of Isaac are the true heirs of God. “It is not as though God’s word had failed,” he asserted. “For not all who are descended from Israel are [of] Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned’ [Genesis 21:12]. In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Romans 9:6-8, NIV).
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul reasserted the striking difference between the seed of the pre-covenant Ishmael and the covenant-fulfilling seed of Isaac. He made both historical and spiritual comparisons.
For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman [or slave], the other by a freewoman [Genesis 16:15].
But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic.
For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar – for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. . . .
But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman” (Galatians 4:22-26, 29, 30).
Paul makes it clear that Ishmael was the pre-covenant seed of a slave and therefore could not represent God’s covenant with His people. Isaac, on the other hand, was a freeman, born of a freewoman as the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. Those who are heirs to the bondswoman of the flesh (viz., Ishmael), will remain in bondage until set free by the salvation of Christ, who is heir to the covenant of the freeman, Isaac.
In the preceding letter to the Galatians, Paul also pointed out that the descendants of Ishmael will always be persecuting the descendants of Isaac, the freeman, and that the heirs of the two can never share in the inheritance of the freeman. The only hope of sharing this inheritance that the descendants of Ishmael have is to be grafted in through the salvation of Christ.
Despite the clarity from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and testimony from God’s own mouth, Muslims, some Christian leaders and other ignorant or uninformed individuals continue to claim that Muslims—or at least Arabic Muslims—are descendants of Abraham, therefore, Islam can lay claim to being an “Abrahamic faith.” Muslims also claim that the Old Testament prophets, the Apostles and Jesus Himself were Muslims.
It is important to recognize, from an Islamic viewpoint, it was necessary for the god of Islam to supplant Isaac with Ishmael as the one God called Abraham to sacrifice. Why? Because it was through Isaac’s lineage that Jesus the Messiah would be born (Hadian, Shahram. The Trojan Horse of Interfaith Dialogue Between Christians and Muslims, Speech, November 27, 2018).
Understanding Islam in the Light of Christianity is available from the author’s website, https://understandinggislaminthelightofchristianity.com or on Amazon.com.
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