ISHMAEL Aranic Isma’il اسماعيل
The eldest son of Abraham, by his “wife” Hagar [HAJAR.]
(1) The progenitor of the Arabian race, and, according to the Qur’an, an inspired prophet. Surah xix. 55._
“And commemorate Ishmael in ‘the Book;’ for he was true to his promise, and was an Apostle, a prophet;
“And he enjoined prayer and almsgiving on his people, and was well-pleasing to his Lord.”
(2) Said to have assisted his father in the construction of the Ka’bah. Surah ii. 119, 121:-
“And remember when we appointed the Holy House as man’s resort and safe retreat, and said, ‘Take ye the station of Abraham for a place of prayer.’ And we commanded Abraham and Ishmael, ‘Purify my house for those who shall go in procession round it, and those who shall abide there for devotion, and those who shall bow down and prostrate themselves.’”
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“And when Abraham, with Ishmael, raised the foundations of the House, they said, ‘O our Lord! Accept it from us; for Thou are the Hearer, the Knower.’”
(3) Also mentioned in six other places.
Surah ii. 134: “Do ye say that Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes were Jews, or Christians?”
Surah iii. 78: “And what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes.”
Surah iv. 161: “And we inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes.”
Surah vi. 86: “And Ishmael and Elisha, and Jonah, and Lot.”
Surah xxi. 85: “And Ishmael, and Idris, and Zu ‘l-Kifl, all these were of the patient.”
Surah xxxviii. 48: “And remember Ishmael, and Elisha, and Zu ‘l-Kifl, for each was righteous.”
(4) According to the Old Testament, Ishmael had twelve sons, and Muslim tradition also agrees with this: –
Genesis xxv. 12: “Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, according to their generations; the first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, and Hadar, and Tema, and Jetur, and Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names by the castles, twelve princes according to their nations.”
The names of these sons of Ishmael can still be distinguished amongst the tribes, the names of which occur in Muslim history: Nebajoth (Nabayus), the founder of the Nabathean nation, who succeeded the Idumeans in Arabia, and were an important people in Northern Arabiz. Kedar (Qaidar) was also a famous tribe, so famous that the Badawis of the desert applied the name to all Jews. Dumah is still preserved in the name Dumatu ‘l-Jandal. Tema corresponds with Taimah, and Jetur with the Jadur of modern Arabia. Muhammad is said to have been descended from Ishmael’s second son Kedar (Qaidar), through one named ‘Adnan. The period between ‘Adnan and Ishmael is doubtful. Some reckon forty generations, others only four. Umm Salmah, one of the Prophet’s wives, said ‘Adnan was the son of ‘Adad, the son of Humaisa, son of Nabat, son of Ishmael. (See Abu ‘l-Fida, p. 62.) Muslim historians, however, admit that the pedigree of Muhammad beyond ‘Adnan is uncertain; but they are unanimous in tracing his descent to ‘Adnan in the following line: (1) Muhammad, (2) ‘Abdu’llah, (3) Abu Muttalib, (4) Hashim, (5) ‘Abdu Manaf, (6) Qusaiy, (7) Kilab, (8) Murrah, (9) Ka’b, (10) Luwaiy, (11) Ghalib, (12) Fihr, (13) Malik, (14) An-Nazr, (15) Kinanah, (16) Khuzaimah, (17) Mudrikah, (18) Al-Ya’s, (19) Muzar, (20) Nizar, (21) Ma’add, (22) ‘Adnan.
Syud Ahmad Khan Bahadur traces the descent of Muhammad to Kedar, the son of Ishmael, and the view is one in accordance with that of most Muslim writers. In the time of Isaiah the two chief Arabian tribes seem to have been the descendants of Nebajoth and Kedar. (See Isaiah lx. 7.) “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered unto thee, the rams of Nebajoth shall minister unto thee.”
(5) The account of Hagar leaving Abraham’s home is given in numerous traditions. But there are two traditions given by Ibn ‘Abbas, and recorded in the Sahih of al-Bukhari, which are the foundation of Muslim history on the subject. We give them as they have been translated by Syud Ahmad Khan, and afterwards append the Scripture narrative, which can be compared with the traditions of Islam:-
For reasons known only to Abraham and his wife, Sarah, the former took Ishmael, his son, and the boy’s mother (Hagar), and left his country.
And they had with them a skin full of water.
Ishmael’s mother drank from out the skin, suckling he child.
Upon her arriving at the place where Mecca now stands, she placed the child under a bush.
Then Abraham returned to come back to his wife, and the mother of Ishmael followed him.
Until she reached Keda.
And she called out, “O Abraham, with whom leavest thou me?”
He answered, “With God.”
She replied, “I am satisfied with my God.”
Then she returned, and commenced drinking out of the out of the skin, and suckled her infant until the water was consumed.
And she thought that if she went and looked around, she might, perhaps, see someone; and she went.
She ascended Mount Safa, and looked around to see whether or not there was anyone in sight; then hastily returning through the wilderness, she ascended the mountain of Marva.
Then she said, “I must now go and see how my child is.” And she went, and saw that he was at the point of death; but not being able to compose her mind, she said, “If I go and look around, peradventure I may see someone.” And accordingly she ascended the mountain of Safa, but could descry no one.”
And this she repeated seven times.
She then said: “It will be better for me to go and see my child.” But she suddenly heard a voice.
And see replied, “Kindly assist me, if you have any compassion.”
The angel was Gabriel.
The narrator of the tradition, stamping the earth with his foot, said, this was exactly what the angel did, and that water issued from the spot; and she began to widen the hole.
It is related by Ibn ‘Abbas, that the Prophet said that had she (Hagar) allowed the water to remain in its former state, the water would then have continued issuing forth forever.
She used to drink that water and suckle her child.
Abraham brought with him his wife (Hagar) and his son (Ishmael),
Whom she (Hagar) suckled.
And they both placed the child close by the spot where the Kaaba now stands under a bush.
Near the well of Zamzem, near the lofty side of the temple – and in those days Mecca was uninhabited and without water – and they deposited the child in the above place.
And Abraham place beside them a bag full of dates,
And a skin full of water.
Then returned Abraham, and Ishmael’s mother ran after him,
And said, “Abraham, whither goest thou and wherefore leavest thou me here?
“In this wilderness, where there is no one to pity me, neither is there anything to eat?” This she repeated several times, but Abraham hearkened not unto her. Then she asked him, “Has God commanded thee to do this?”
He answered, “Yes.”
“Then,” said she, “God will cause no harm to come unto me.”
Thereupon she returned back.
And Abraham went away, and when he reached Saneoa, he could not see those he had left behind him.
Then he turned towards Mecca, and prayed thus: “O Lord, I have caused some of my offspring to settle in an unfruitful valley, near thy holy house, O Lord, that they may be constant in prayer. Grant, therefore, that the hearts of some men may be affected with kindness towards them; and do thou bestow on them all sorts of fruits, that they may give thanks.”
And the mother of Ishmael began to suckle her child, and to drink water out of the skin until it was emptied.
And she and her son felt thirsty. And when she saw that her child was suffering from thirst, she could not bear to see it in such a plight and retired, and reached the mountain of Safa, that was near, and ascending it, looked at the plain in the hope of seeing someone; but, not perceiving anyone, she came down from the mountain.
When she reached the desert, she girded up her loins and ran as one mad, until she crossed the desert, and ascended Mount Marva; but she could not see anyone.
She repeated the same seven times.
It is related by Ibn ‘Abbas, that the Prophet said that this was the origin of the custom of true believers running between these mountains during the Haj.
And when she ascended the Marva mountain, she heard a voice.
She was startled thereat; and upon hearing it again, she said, “Wherefore callest thou on me? Assist me if thou canst.”
She then saw an angel near the Zamzem.
He (the angel) made a hollow place, either by his foot or with his wing, and the water issued forth; and the mother of Ishmael commenced widening it.
She filled the skin with water, which came out of it as from a fountain.
It is related by Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet said, “May God bless the mother of Ishmael. Had she left the Zamzem as it was, or had she not filled her skin with water, then the Zamzem would always have remained an overflowing fountain.”
Then she drank the water, and suckled her child.
The account as given in the Bible, Genesis xxii. 9, is as follows:-
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And this thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight, because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of they bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and set her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot; for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she say over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand, for I will make him a great nation, and God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness or Paran; and his mother tookhim a wife out of the land of Egypt.”
With reference to the above account, as given in Holy Scripture, Syud Ahmad Khan remarks: –
“Notwithstanding the perfect coincidence of the facts taken from the Scriptures with those from the Koran, as above shown, there are nevertheless, three very important questions which suggest themselves respecting Ishmael’s settlement.”
“First. Where did Abraham leave Ishmael and his mother after expelling them from his home?”
“Secondly. Where did Ishmael and Hagar settle after their wanderings in the desert?”
“Thirdly. Was it in the very spot where they had rested for the first time, or in some other place?”
“The Koran mentions nothing on the subject; but there are some local traditions, and also a few Hadeeses, which treat of it, the latter, however, by reason of their not possessing sufficient authority, and from their not being traced up to the Prophet, are as little to be relied on as the former. The local traditions being deemed unworthy of credit, from their mixing up together occurrences that had happened on various and different occasions, we do not think it necessary to dwell on the first question more than has been done by the Scriptures themselves, which say the “He (Abraham) sent her (Hagar) away; and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.’”
“As for the two remaining questions, although the language of Scriptures is not very clear – since, in one place it says, “And he (Ishmael) grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer’ (Gen. xxi. 20), and in another, ‘He (Ishmael) dwelt in the wilderness of Paran’ (Gen. xxi. 21), passages which would certainly lead us to infer that Ishmael had changed the place of his abode; yet, as no Christian commentator represents him as having removed from one place to another, and as, moreover, neither the religious nor the local traditions of the Mohammadans in any way confirm the above, it may be safely asserted that Ishmael and his mother did not change the place where they swell, and that by the word ‘wilderness’ alone the sacred writer meant the wilderness of Paran. The solving of the whole question depends, therefore, upon ascertaining and fixing the position of the said wilderness of Paran, where Ishmael is said to have settled.”
“Oriental geographers mention three places as known by the appellation of Paran. First, that wilderness wherein the city of Mecca now stands, and the mountains in its vicinity; secondly, those mountains and a village which are situated in Eastern Egypt, or Arabia Petræa; and thirdly, a district in the province of Samarcand.”
(6) Al-Baizawi says it was Ishmael, and not Isaac, whom Abraham was willing to offer up as a sacrifice; but this view is nether supported by the text of the Qur’an nor by the preponderance of traditional testimony. If we compare Surah xi. 74: “And We announced Isaac (as the child of promise) to her,” with Surah xxxvii. 99: “We announced (as a child of promise) to him a youth of meekness; and when he became a full-grown youth, his father said to him, ‘My son, I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee’” – there can be no doubt in any candid mind that, as far as the Qur’an is concerned, Isaac and not Ishmael is intended. [ISAAC.]
The two commentators al-Kamalan quote a number of traditions on the subject. They say Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas Hasan, and ‘Abdu‘llah ibn Ahmad, relate that it was Isaac; whilst Ibn Mas’ud, Mujahid, ‘Ikrimah, Qatadah, and Ibn Ishaq say it was Ishmael. But whatever may be the real facts of the case, it is certain that popular tradition amongst both the Sunnis and Shi’ahs assigns the honor to Ishmael, and believe the great Festival of Sacrifice, the ‘Idu ‘l-Azha, to have been established to commemorate the event. [‘IDU ‘L - AZHA.]
The author of the Shia’ah word, the Hayatu ‘l-Qulub (Merrick’s ed. p. 28) says: “On a certain occasion when this illustrious father (Abraham) was performing the rites of the pilgrimage at Mecca, Abraham said to his beloved child, ‘I dreamed that I msut sacrifice you; now consider what is to be done with reference to such an admonition.’ Ishmael replied, ‘Do as you shall be commanded of God. Verify your dream. You will find me endure patiently.’ But when Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, the Most High God made a black and white sheep his substitute, a sheep which had been pasturing forty years in Paradise, and was created by the direct power of God for this event. Now every sheep offered on Mount Mina, until the Day of Judgement is a substitute, or a commemoration of the substitute for Ishmael.”
The idea is universal amongst Muslims that the incident took place on Mount Mina near Makkah, and not in the “land of Moriah,” as stated in Genesis xxii. 3. (For a discussion on the site of Mount Moriah, see Mr. George Grove’s article in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible.)
Sir William Muir says (Life of Mahomet, new ed. p. xvii.): “By a summary adjustment, the story of Palestine became the story of the Hejaz. The precincts of the Kaaba were hallowed as the scene of Hagar’s distress, and the sacred well Zamzem as the source of her relief. The pilgrims hasted to and fro between Safa and Marwa in memory of her hurried steps in search of water. It was Abraham and Ishmael who built the (Meccan) temple, placed in it the black stone, and established for all mankind the pilgrimage to Arafat. In imitation of him it was that stones were flung by pilgrims at Satan; and sacrifices were offered at Mina in remembrance of the vicarious sacrifice by Abraham instead of his son. And thus, although the indigenous rites may have been little if at all altered, by the adoption of the Abrahamic legends, they came to be viewed in a totally different light, and to be connected in the Arab imagination with something of the sanctity of Abraham, the Friend of God. The gulf between the gross idolatry of Arabia and the pure theism of the Jews was bridged over. Upon this common ground Mahomet took his stand, and proclaimed to his people a new and a spiritual system, in accents to which all Arabia could respond. The rites of the Kaaba were retained, but stripped by him of every idolatrous tendency: and they still hang, a strange unmeaning shroud, around the living theism of Islam.”
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam