Eid ul Adha Mubarak! – and some thoughts on the Bible…

I’d like to wish everyone a happy Eid ul Adha (festival of the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim A.S.) this 10th day of dhul al Hijjah. As the pilgrims complete the third day of their Hajj, so we participate in this time to celebrate forgiveness and reward for good deeds.

As Muslims, we have only two Eids in the year, so make the most of this and celebrate with family, good friends, and even Muslims (and non-Muslims) you wouldn’t normally meet, but would appreciate an invitation, learn more about Islam, and build bonds between you (remember that Eid ul Adha is three days, so it’s perfect for spending a day with each group).

Now for those who don’t know, Eid ul Adha is an act of worship that is based upon the act of worship by Ibrahim (A.S.), who had greatly wanted a child but had reached old age. He was given a son by Allah (SWT)’s will, and greatly rejoiced, but he was then given a vision of sacrificing his only son, and interpreting this as a command from Allah (SWT), was (understandably) a great test. His son Ismail was righteous, and when he heard of the vision, was perfectly calm and at ease and reassured his father.

However, as Ibrahim took his son and prepared to fulfil his vision, Allah (SWT) called to him and halted him – informing him that this was only a test. Ibrahim (A.S.) had chosen Allah (SWT) over his most his most loved thing in the world – his only son Ismail (A.S.). In the stead of Ismail, Allah (SWT) sent a ram to Ibrahim (A.S.) for sacrifice and rewarded Ibrahim (A.S.) with future generations who would ask Allah (SWT) to send peace (salaam) upon Ibrahim (A.S.).

It is an interesting story from the past, for two reasons: firstly it shows that our lives are a struggle between what we love of the things in this world, and who we should love – who made us and everything in this world and the next. You see, Allah (SWT) doesn’t test us to find out what we would do – but he tests us to allow us to make choices and choose to get closer to Him and realise who all along, we should have been really loving beyond all things. Secondly, the story also teaches us of Allah’s (SWT) mercy, that if we make ourselves ready to give everything we have to Him, even to the point of hardship – He is merciful and doesn’t need unnecessary suffering from us or going, beyond what we can bear, in order to get closer to him.

Why did I mention the Bible in my title? Well, the story of Ibrahim (A.S.)’s trial is also mentioned in the book of Genesis, chapter 22, in the Tanakh (the “Old Testament”, or “Jewish Bible”). However, there is one major difference with the story related by the Quran, in the Tanakh, it says Ibrahim (A.S.) was tested with his son Issac, not Ismail (whereas in the Quran it seems to say that this test happened with Ibrahim (A.S.) before Ibrahim was told about a new son Isaac (A.S.) – see Ibn Kathir’s commentary). So why the difference?

In the book of Genesis 22 it reads:

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.

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.”

After Abraham passes the test, the text continues with it reporting God allegedly saying:

“because you have done this and have not withheld your son, *your only son*, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore”.

The problem is, Ismail (A.S) was the first born son of Ibrahim (A.S). and came before Issac (A.S.). Yet in the Bible, it says twice that “Abraham” (A.S.) was told to sacrifice his *only son*. There was only one point in time that Ibrahim (A.S.) had an *only son*; after Ismail was born and before Isaac was born. Which means Ibrahim’s *only son* could only have been Ismail – as the Quran seems to corroborate.

Now Jews/Christians tend to argue that *only son* is just a term to mean that Isaac was especially favoured over Ismail, or that Ismail was born to Hajar and not Ibrahim’s wife, Sarah, and so wasn’t a ‘true son’, but this is refuted within the Bible itself, and “Ishmael” is called his son repeatedly.

To those who say the Quran is not revelation and just borrows from the Bible, why does it’s account of the past lack the inconsistencies in the Bible?

A little nugget of knowledge as my Eid ul Adha gift to you all*



Categories: ANNOUNCEMENTS, Reflections, WRITINGS

1 reply

  1. Masha’llah.,what a great,succinct exegesis.As a revert from Christianity too,i can relate to the Biblical narrative.Jazakallahu khayr ya ustadh for this piece.

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