Abraham’s story is one of the complicated texts in both the Qur’an and the holy bible (Froese 12). Shosh (526) notes that its image is variably presented in the two contexts. While many scholars in religion have concentrated on understanding Abraham’s sons: Ishmael and Isaac (Murray 298) and their roles in the origin of Muslim and Christian communities, Abraham is a very influential figure in the origin of both religions (Shosh 527). This essay gets out of the way and argues that Abraham is the sole father of the two religions. The argument will isolate Abraham’s character from his sons at the specific case of sacrifice of his son to God (Genesis 22: 1-9 & Q 37:105). Son’s roles in his life may be mentioned; their characters in origin of the two religions are insignificant in this essay.
The Qur’an and holy Bible give a contradictory story about this topic. Abraham had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 11-12 & Q 2-3). The bible in Genesis presents Ishmael as son born by a slave, Hagar; while Isaac as the true son of Abraham (Murray 309). Qur’an presents both as biological sons of Abraham. Which of the two sons did God ask for a sacrifice from Abraham? This is a difficult question to answer at our generation. According to the bible, Isaac was the only son of Abraham (Genesis 21) who was born under the power of God; Ishmael and Isaac were both the sons of Abraham (Q 2). Qur’an stipulates that Ishmael, the first born of Abraham, was the sacrifice God asked from Abraham (Q 37:105) whereas on contrary, the holy bible states that Isaac, the only child of Abraham, was the sacrifice God wanted from Abraham. Which text is right to follow? Anyway it does not matter for this argument. The fact is Abraham offered to sacrifice his son to God (Fischer 173).
According to Shosh (527), Abraham’s character has been viewed in different perspectives. Abraham is a profound character in matters of faith and religion; he cannot be overlooked in the study of both Islam and Christianity. In the story of sacrifice of his son, Abraham appears the first and last, both in the bible and Qur’an, to be posed such a difficult task by God. As Murray (300) notes Abraham heeded to this call. From this story the essay will justify why Abraham is the father of Islam and Christianity.
Christianity calls for absolute obedience to God. Christians should obey all the ten commandments of God. When Abraham was called by God to offer the sacrifice of his son, he did not question. He obeyed. Abraham took his son, Isaac, the following morning and headed for the place of sacrifice (Genesis 22:3). Abraham was determined to offer the sacrifice of his only son to God. He is revealed as the father of obedience which Christians must look up to. On the other hand, Qur’an states that Abraham offered to sacrifice Ishmael to God (O’Kane 500). Ishmael was his older son and indeed closer to him; in fact they preached together in Arabia while Isaac preached in Palestine and Syria. To the amazement of many Abraham admitted to the call of God to sacrifice him. This was a sign of great obedience. Muslims have a call to abide to the rules of Allah as the only God. Abraham is the beacon of obedience.
Abraham was the first to believe in both body and spirit to the one God. He was against the worship of idols which was practiced by his forefathers (Q 21:60). He preached believe in one God (Q 6:76 & Froese 15). Indeed, Abraham believed in God in heaven. Accepting to offer his son to God was a sign of deep believe and trust in Him. To believe in God is to accept unconditionally to His call; heed to His laws. Abraham demonstrated believe in God which is what religion is all about. Muslims are therefore called to believe strongly to Allah as the only God.
As Fischer (174) argued, God’s call to Abraham to make human sacrifice was an indication to both the Christians and Muslims that He is not interested in human sacrifice. When Abraham had just laid his son, Isaac, down to slay him the angel of God appeared to him and stopped him from doing that (Fischer, 176 & Genesis 22:9). This is an indication that God is not interested in human sacrifice. Throughout the Christian history human sacrifices have never been advocated for. In the Qur’an context it is stated that God warned Abraham not to lay the knife to his son, Ishmael. Islamic religion does not offer human sacrifices as well. In my own opinion God used Abraham to send a message to the whole nations: God does not need human sacrifice. He is a sign of anti-human sacrifice.
Why did God ask for human sacrifice from Abraham when He never needed it? This is the interesting question we need to answer in analyzing this story. Fisher (176) thinks that God wanted to expose the human nature through Abraham. Fisher further argues that God expected Abraham to bring a controversial discussion in the matter. I do not agree with Fisher. God is the creator of man; He knows his personality. There was no way God could test the nature of man. In my own view God wanted to use Abraham to reveal to the world the ideal nature of those who will inherit His kingdom. In natural sense, death especially for one’s child is not as light as Abraham took it. God had inspired him first before putting him into this test. And because Abraham would be celebrated as the father of religion all over the world God made him act the way he did.
In this story God wanted to clarify that religion is not contradicting. As Fisher (176) notes, God did not want to contradict himself by allowing Abraham to slaughter a son whom He had asked from Him for more than ninety years (Genesis 22). Christianity today should learn from the father, Abraham that God laws are clear and do not change. It should be clear that God remained faithful to Abraham. If God allowed Abraham to slaughter his son it would be a contradiction of a promise that Abraham would become the father of all nations. On the other hand, God would not let Ishmael be slaughtered as a sacrifice; Ishmael had been assisting Abraham in preaching in Arabia. In this argument therefore Abraham laid the foundation of religion; no contradiction. What could have happened if Abraham objected to the call of God? The religion today would not have the same meaning. God would have expelled Abraham out of His kingdom. This what the religion today holds: excommunication to the victims of religious contradiction.
God appeared to Abraham when he had almost slaughtered his son (Genesis 22). In Qur’an’s view Abraham had fulfilled the vision and kept His word. God wanted to use this chance to tell the Islamic religion that there is a vision in this life. Adhering to the word of Allah is the only thing to bring the vision into realization; this would be at the end of time. In Biblical view, God provided an alternative to Abraham to offer sacrifice, a lamb. This has a meaning for the Christian community: God is the solution to all the problems. It is in the same context that God sent Jesus Christ to save the world. Vision and hope are the basis of these religions.
The story of sacrifice by Abraham has been differently interpreted by the two texts as earlier mentioned. In both Islam and Christianity; however, Abraham plays one role-The father of religion. He represents an ideal of holy mosque and church. His character has been put in the religious history to define the way for religion. By demonstrating strong believe and faith in God, Abraham revealed to the world that there is one supreme God who should be worshipped and obeyed.
Islam emphasizes on one God who should be worshipped: ‘Only Allah Should be worshipped’. Where did they derive this from? The immediate answer is Abraham. Christians believe in one God who is the father and almighty. They are indeed descendants of Abraham.
Abraham is therefore the father of Islam and Christianity.