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Navez Agar et Ismaël.jpg
A depiction of Hagar and her son Ishmael in the Arabian desert by François-Joseph Navez.
Prophet, Patriarch, Apostle to Arabia, Father of the Arabs
Venerated inJudaism
Bahá'í Faith
InfluencedIshmaelites and Muslims

Ishmael,[a] a figure in the Tanakh and the Quran, was Abraham's first son according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born to Abraham and Sarah's handmaiden Hagar (Hājar) (Genesis 16:3). According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137 (Genesis 25:17).

The Book of Genesis and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites and patriarch of Qaydār. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael the Patriarch and his mother Hagar are buried next to the Kaaba in Mecca.[1]

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  • ✪ Islamic Kids Stories | Prophet Ishmael (AS) | Story For Children| Prophet Stories for Kids
  • ✪ Jonathan Cahn: The Mystery of Ishmael
  • ✪ Hagar And Ishmael Sent Away I Old Testament I Bible Story For Children | Holy Tales Bible stories
  • ✪ Ishmael author Daniel Quinn: Saving the World, Moving Beyond Civilization: Part 1 of 2
  • ✪ 11c Judaism: scriptures, Father Abraham - Sarah, Isaac, Hagar, and Ishmael


Assalamu Alaikum! Walaikum Assalam! Didn’t you say that you will tell me the story of Prophet Ishmael (as) today? Yes my son, Insha Allah! I will tell you his story now. Shall I start? Yes Baba Bismillah! The story of Prophet Ishmael (as) A long long time ago, Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his wife Sarah were travelling through a desert. They had been travelling for many days, and one day, they happened to enter the territory of an evil king. The evil king came to know about the beautiful wife of the prophet, and he wanted to take her. So he send one of his soldiers to bring the prophet to him. The soldier brought the prophet before the king. “Who is the lady accompanying you?” asked the evil king The prophet replied that she was his sister. The evil king then asked the prophet to bring Sarah to his court. He said that he wanted to meet this beautiful woman that everyone in his kingdom was talking about. The prophet went to his wife and said “The king wants to meet you” “Do not ever tell him that you are my wife, because I’ve told him that you are my sister” the prophet told his wife. When Sarah went to the King’s palace, the king was struck by her beauty, and he tried to take hold of her with his hands! But the moment his hand got near Sarah, it became stiff, and he could not move it!! The evil king was scared, and he requested Sarah “Please pray to Allah(swt) for me, and I will never harm you” When Sarah prayed to Allah(swt), his hands got cured miraculously!! But the moment he realized that his hands were cured, the foolish king tried to take hold of Sarah again!! And for the second time, his hands got stiff. The king couldn’t move his hands at all!! “Please pray to Allah(swt) for me.. I shall never harm you again!” said the King Sarah prayed to Allah again, and his hands got cured for the second time. This time the King realized that Sarah was no ordinary woman! So he gave Sarah a gift! He gave her one of his Egyptian maid servant, and her name was Hajar! She was then sent home. When Sarah returned home, the prophet asked her what happened? “Allah(swt) taught that evil king a lesson, and he gave me maid- Hajar” replied Sarah Years passed and the prophet grew old. His hair grayed, but he continued to call people back to Allah (swt). Sarah too had grown old and she realized that she would no longer be able to give birth to a child. So she asked the prophet to marry their servant Hajar. She then prayed to Allah(swt) to bless them with a child! After a few months, Hajar gave birth to a child, and they named him Ishmael(as)! By now, the prophet had grown very old! One day the prophet woke up, he felt like Allah(swt) wanted him to do something. So he went to Hajar. “Get Ishmael” He said “Get ready for a long journey” Ibrahim (as) and his wife with the baby in her arms kept travelling for a long long time. They walked for many days till they reached a dry valley of the desert near the Al-Marwah mountain. There were no fruits, no trees, no food, and no water either No signs of any life could be found in the valley. The Prophet then left his wife and son with a small amount of food and water, This was hardly enough for both of them to last for two days. The Prophet then turned around and started walked away His wife hurried after him Where are you going leaving us in this barren valley? She cried to him But the prophet didn't answer her and kept walking away. She called him again But the prophet remained silent and walked away Finally she understood that the prophet was not acting on his own. She realized that Allah (swt) had commanded him to do this. Did Allah (swt) command to do so? She asked him The prophet shook his head and continued walking Then his great wife said, "We are not going to be lost" Since Allah(swt) who commanded you is with us The prophet was very sad, as he had left his wife and his son in a barrren desert, where there were no other people He prayed to Allah(swt) to give his wife and son enough food and he asked Allah(swt) to send people with good hearts to them Hajar (ra) drank the water that the prophet had left, so that she could feed her son. The water got over very soon, and both of them started getting very thirsty. After sometime, the baby started getting thirsty, and started to cry! She ran to a hill closeby called Al Marwah hoping that she might find somebody. She stood there hoping to find somebody, but she did not!! Then she ran to the next mountain called Al Safa, hoping to find someone from there! But she couldn’t find anyone from there either! She kept running between these mountains seven times! When she climbed Al Marwah for the last time, she was very tired. She got so tired that she sat next to her baby. It was then that she heard a voice She kept quiet,and waited to hear the voice again When she heard the voice for the second time, she said “O, whoever you might be, you have made me hear your voice! Have you got something to help me?” That was when she saw an angel digging the earth! The angel kept digging till the water flowed from it! It was a miracle! When she saw the water, she ran toward it, and started to build a basin around it. She scooped the water with her hands and drank from it. Then she filled the water bag and ran towards her child. This place where the water rose is called Zam Zam. After a few days, some people were travelling through Mecca. They saw the birds flying around Al Marwah, and they thought the birds might be flying around the water. They started walking towards Al Marwah When they arrived, they were surprised to find the woman with a baby sitting near the water! “Shall we stay here and use this water please?” They asked her. Hajar(ra) said yes, and they drank water from the Zam Zam Like that many others came to Al Marwah, and eventually settled down there. The whole valley became alive now, and she and her child were not alone anymore! Ismail (as) grew up and learned Arabic from the people who had settled downat Al Marwah. He was a good boy, and his virtues and qualities made the people admire him. He kept thinking about his father, and knew that his father will come back someday! Ismail (as) then married a local woman, and lived his life in peace. In the meantime, Prophet Ibrahim (as) was very sad because he had not seen his son for a very long time. One day, he decided to go to Mecca to meet his wife and his son. He travelled for many days, and finally arrived at Al Marwah But it was very late. When he arrived, people told him that Hajar(ra) had died sometime ago. The prophet was very sad to hear this and then the local people told the prophet that his son, Ismail (as) was still alive! The prophet was very happy to hear this, and thanked Allah(swt)! When Ismail(as) saw his father, he ran to him and hugged him very tightly. He could not believe his eyes!! He was very happy to see his father after a long long time. It was a very happy time for both of them But one day, Allah decided to test Ibrahim(as) One night when the prophet was sleeping, he saw a dream! In his dream the prophet saw himself killing his son as a sacrifice to Allah (swt). The prophet woke up, and ignored it as it was just a dream But the next night, he saw the same dream again!. This time he realized that this was not just a dream, and that Allah(swt) was asking him to sacrifice his own son! The prophet went to his son, and told him about the dream. Ismail (as) realized that it was an order from Allah(swt) "Do what Allah(swt) has asked you to” He told his father. The next day, the prophet took a rope and a knife, and set out for mount Arafat, along with his son. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, Ismail (as) asked his father to tie his hand and legs, so that he may not struggle during the sacrifice. The prophet obliged, and tied his hands and legs. Then he blindofolded himself so that he wont have to watch his son suffer. The prophet raised his knife, but then suddenly, he heard the voice from the sky. He took off his blindfold, and saw a sheep being sent from heaven. Allah(swt) had sent the sheep to be sacrified instead of Ismail(as) The prophet was really happy, because his son was going to be alive! The prophet and his son had just passed a difficult test from Allah (swt) Ibrahim (as) slaughtered the sheep, and they had a big celebration. The prophet and his son kept calling people to worship Allah(swt) They didn’t have any place to worship Allah(swt) so one day Allah(swt) ordered the prophet to build a house!! “Allah(swt) has ordered me to build a Kabbah” the prophet said to his son. And Ismail(as) replied “Do what your God has ordered you to do”. The prophet then asked his son if he help him build the kabbah, and Ismail (as) agreed. They started building the foundation of the kabbah. Ismail (as) brought the stones, while Ibrahim (as) built the house. When the walls got tall, Ismail(as) brought a large stone for the prophet to work by standing on it This stone was called Maqam-e-Ibrahim. When they completed the foundation, and built the corners, Ibrahim(as) asked Ismail(as) to find the stone to fill the corner. “I feel tired” Ismail (as) said to his father. But when the Ibrahim(as) insisted, Ismail(as) went searching for the stone. While he was gone, an angel got the prophet a stone. The angel told him that this stone was brought to earth by Adam (as) from Paradise! The stone was originally white, however its color gradually turned into black because of the sins committed by people on earth. Ismail(as) returned after sometime, and when he saw the stone he was surprised and asked his father where it came from. “It was brought by someone who never gets tired” replied Ibrahim(as) And they finally completed building the Kabbah They prayed to Allah (swt) to accept their work Allah(swt) was very happy with the prophet and his son for spreading his message. And proclaimed the pilgrimage among men, they will come to thee on foot, and on every kind of camel, lean an account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways. The prophet grew old, and so did his wife Sarah. One day when he was sitting outside his house, he saw three men coming towards his house. The three men were actually angels sent by Allah (swt). The prophet welcome them inside to have food. The strangers went in and sat down for food. The Prophet served them a roasted calf! But the strangers did not touch the food at all. The prophet started to fear. Then the angels comforted the prophet and asked him not to fear at all. They told him that they were actually the angels sent by Allah (swt). They informed him that they came to his house to deliver a good news. They said that Allah (swt) was going to give them a son, and that he should name him Ishaaq. They also told him that his son would be a prophet. Sarah could not believe her ears! How could that be true” she wondered. “I am so old” Then the angels said, all these things are possible with Allah (swt). After a few months, Sarah got pregnant and gave birth to a child! The prophet named him Ishaaq(as), as the angels told him. After a few years, Prophet Ibrahim missed his son Ismail (as) badly, so he went to see him. But when the prophet reached the house of Ismail (as), he was not at home. His wife came out, and when the prophet asked her about Ismail(as), she replied “He has gone in search of livelihood”. He then asked her how was their living conditions, to which she started complaining about everything! She complained that they were living in misery and hardship, and many other things. She was not at all grateful to the blessings of Allah (swt) The prophet realized that she was not at all a suitable wife for his son, so left her a message that his son would understand. “When your husband returns convey my salutations to him” he said “and also tell him to change the threshold of the gate”. The prophet then went back to his home. When Ismail(as) returned home in the evening, he felt something unusual “Did anyone visit us today?” he asked her. She replied, yes, and passed on the message. When Ismail(as) heard the message, he realized that it was his father who visited him that day, and he understood the message that he gave her. “It was my father, and he has advised me to divorce you. You can go back to your family” He told her. His wife went back to her house, and Ismail (as) married another woman. After a long time, Prophet Ibrahim (as) again missed his son badly, so he visited his new house once again. When he arrived, it was his new wife who answered the door. The prophet asked the same questions he had asked his former wife. But this time when she answered, the prophet realized that she was a very grateful and kind woman. She kept thanking Allah(swt) for the wonderful things going on around, and the prophet was very happy. “When your husband comes home, give him my regards” The prophet told Ismail’s wife. He also added “And also tell him that he should keep the threshold of this gate firm”. He left after asking her to deliver this secret message In the evening, when Ismail (as)came back, he asked his wife if anyone had come to visit him. When his wife told him about the prophet and the message, Ismail (as) was very happy. “it was my father” said Ismail “and you are the threshold of the gate. He asked me to keep you with me forever” said the prophet happily!! Prophet Ibrahim (as) lived for One hundred and seventy five years! He lived a life full of trials but he had a strong faith in Allah (swt)!! The life of Prophet Ibrahim (as) teaches us to love Allah (swt) unconditionally. Even though there are more than 25 prophets mentioned in the Quran Allah mentions only two prophets ideal for whole humanity, and they were: Prophet Muhammed (as), and Prophet Ibrahim (as) Masha Allah! That was such an amazing story! Hmm.. So you liked the story of Ibrahim(as)? I loved it Baba! Ha haa.. Alright, now let me ask you a few questions from the story. Shall I? Go ahead Tell me the names of the mountains that Hajar (ra) ran across? Hmmm.. They were Al Safa and Al Marwah That’s the right answer. Now tell me how the travelers found the prophet's wife. I’ll give you three options. Option A) They saw animals running towards the mountain. Option B) They saw water flowing down the mountain. Option C) They saw birds flying above the mountain It was option C! Hmm..! The travelers saw the birds flying above the mountain! Haha..That’s right again! The next question. How did God test Ibrahim (as)? I know that one. God asked Ibrahim (as) to sacrifice his only son Ismail (as) And did he sacrifice his son? No! Just before the sacrifice, God told the prophet that he was testing him, and God send a sheep instead for the sacrifice Masha Allah, that’s the right answer. You are doing great my son. Thank you baba Why did the color of the stone that the angels brought turn from white to black? Hmm.. It was because of the sins commited by the people on earth. Excellent! And now for the last question, what was the name of the second son of the prophet? It was Ishaaq (as)! Isn't that right baba? Yes my son, that’s the right answer. That’s all for today. Insha Allah! I will tell you the story of another prophet tomorrow Which story are you going to tell me tomorrow? Insha Allah!I will tell you the story of Prophet Ismail (as) tomorrow Thanks Baba! Good night! Good night!



The name Yishma'el existed in "various ancient Semitic cultures",[2] including early Babylonian and Minæan.[3] It is a theophoric name translated literally as "God (El) has hearkened", suggesting that "a child so named was regarded as the fulfillment of a divine promise".[2]

Genesis narrative

The dismissal of Hagar, by Pieter Pietersz Lastman.
The dismissal of Hagar, by Pieter Pietersz Lastman.

This is the account of Ishmael from Genesis Chapters 16, 17, 21, 25


In Genesis 16, the birth of Ishmael was planned by the Patriarch Abraham's first wife, who at that time was known as Sarai. She and her husband Abram (Abraham) sought a way to have children in order to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant that was established in Genesis 15. Sarai was 75 years old and had yet to bear a child. She had the idea to offer her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to her husband so that they could have a child by her. Abraham took Hagar as his wife and conceived a child with her.[4]

Hagar began to show contempt for Sarah, who responded by treating her harshly. Hagar then fled into the desert region between Abraham's settlement and Shur. Genesis 16:7-16 describes the naming of Ishmael, and God's promise to Hagar concerning Ishmael and his descendants. This occurred at the well of Beer-lahai-roi, where Hagar encountered an angel of God, who said to her "Behold, you are with child / And shall bear a son; / You shall call him Ishmael, / For the Lord has paid heed to your suffering." The Angel commanded Hagar, "Return to your mistress [Sarai] and submit to her."

[5] Abraham was blessed so that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. God would make of Ishmael a great nation because he was of the seed of Abraham. However, God told Hagar that her son would be living in conflict with his relatives. When Ishmael was born, Abraham was 86 years old.

Inheritance, rights and the first circumcision

When he was 13 years old, Ishmael was circumcised at the same time as all other males in Abraham's household, becoming a part of the covenant in a mass circumcision. His father Abram, given the new name "Abraham", then 99, was circumcised along with the others (Genesis 17).

At the time of the covenant, God informed Abraham that his wife Sarah would give birth to a son, whom he was instructed to name Isaac. God told Abraham that He would establish his covenant through Isaac, and when Abraham inquired as to Ishmael's role, God answered that Ishmael has been blessed and that he "will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." (Genesis 17). God also mentioned that "He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be over (against) everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him; And he will live in the presence of his brethren."(Genesis 16).

A year later, Ishmael's half-brother Isaac was born to Abraham by his first wife Sarah when she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17), after she had ceased showing any signs of fertility (Genesis 18:11).

On the day of feasting during which Abraham celebrated the weaning of Isaac, Ishmael was "mocking" or "playing with" Isaac (the Hebrew word מְצַחֵֽק meṣaḥeq is ambiguous)[6] and Sarah asked Abraham to expel Ishmael and his mother, saying: "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."[7][8] Her demand was painful for Abraham, who loved Ishmael. Abraham agreed only after God told him that "in Isaac your seed shall be called", and that God would "make a nation of the son of the bondwoman" Ishmael, since he was a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 21:11–13), God having previously told Abraham "I will establish My covenant with [Isaac]", while also making promises concerning the Ishmaelite nation (Genesis 17:18–21).

Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert, by Grigory Ugryumov (c. 1785).
Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert, by Grigory Ugryumov (c. 1785).

At the age of 14, Ishmael was freed along with his mother. The Lord's covenant made clear Ishmael was not to inherit Abraham's house and that Isaac would be the seed of the covenant: "Take your son, your only son, whom you love and go to the region of Moriah." (Genesis 22:2–8) Abraham gave Ishmael and his mother a supply of bread and water and sent them away. Hagar entered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba where the two soon ran out of water and Hagar, not wanting to witness the death of her son, set the boy some distance away from herself, and wept. "And God heard the voice of the lad" and sent his angel to tell Hagar, "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", from which she drew to save Ishmael's life and her own. "And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer." (Genesis 21:14–21)


After roaming the wilderness for some time, Ishmael and his mother settled in the Desert of Paran, where he became an expert in archery. Eventually, his mother found him a wife from the land of Egypt.[9] They had twelve sons who each became tribal chiefs throughout the regions from Havilah to Shur (from Assyria to the border of Egypt).[10] His sons were:[11]

  1. Nebaioth (נבית)
  2. Kedar (קדר), father of the Qedarites, a northern Arab tribe that controlled the area between the Persian Gulf and the Sinai Peninsula. According to tradition, he is the ancestor of the Quraysh tribe, and thus of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.[12]
  3. Adbeel (אדבאל)
  4. Mibsam (מבשם)
  5. Mishma (משמע)
  6. Dumah (דומה)
  7. Massa (משא)
  8. Hadad (חדד)
  9. Tema (תימא)
  10. Jetur (יטור)
  11. Naphish (נפיש)
  12. Kedemah (קדמה)

Ishmael also had one known daughter, Mahalath or Basemath, the third wife of Esau.[13]

Ishmael appeared with Isaac at the burial of Abraham.[14] Ishmael died at the age of 137.[15]

Family tree

World views

Historians and academics in the fields of linguistics and source criticism believe that the stories of Ishmael belong to the three strata of J, or Yahwist source, the P, or Priestly source, and the E, or Elohist source (See Documentary hypothesis).[3] For example, the narration in Genesis 16 is of J type and the narration in Genesis 21:8–21 is of E type.[16]

Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of Arab people.[17]

Pre-Islamic Arabia

Some Pre-Islamic poetry mentions Ishmael, his father Abraham, and the sacrifice story, such as the Pre-Islamic poet "Umayyah Ibn Abi As-Salt", who said in one of his poems: بكره لم يكن ليصبر عنه أو يراه في معشر أقتال ([The sacrifice] of his first-born of whose separation he [Abraham] could not bear neither could he see him surrounded in foes).[18][19][20]

"Zayd ibn Amr" was another Pre-Islamic figure who refused idolatry and preached monotheism, claiming it was the original belief of their [Arabs] father Ishmael.[21][22]

Also, some of the tribes of Central West Arabia called themselves the "people of Abraham and the offspring of Ishmael", as evidenced by a common opening of speeches and harangues of reconciliation between rival tribes in that area.[23][24]


In Judaism, Ishmael was inclined towards many things Abraham considered wicked. Ishmael even prayed to idols when he believed himself unobserved. [25] According to the Book of Genesis, in the Hebrew Bible, Isaac rather than Ishmael was the true heir of the Abrahamic tradition and covenant.[26]

In some traditions Ishmael is said to have had two wives, one of them named Aisha.[27][28] This name corresponds to the Muslim tradition for the name of Muhammad's wife.[2] This is understood as a metaphoric representation of the Muslim world (first Arabs and then Turks) with Ishmael.[29][30]

Rabbinical commentators in the Midrash Genesis Rabbah also say that Ishmael's mother Hagar was the Pharaoh's daughter, making Ishmael the Pharaoh's grandson. This could be why Genesis 17:20 refers to Ishmael as the father of 12 mighty princes. According to Genesis 21:21, Hagar married Ishmael to an Egyptian woman, and if Rabbinical commentators are correct that Hagar was the Pharaoh's daughter, his marriage to a woman she selected could explain how and why his sons became princes.

According to other Jewish commentators, Ishmael's mother Hagar is identified with Keturah, the woman Abraham sought out and married after Sarah's death. It is suggested that Keturah was Hagar's personal name, and that "Hagar" was a descriptive label meaning "stranger".[31][32][33] This interpretation is discussed in the Midrash[34] and is supported by Rashi, Gur Aryeh, Keli Yakar, and Obadiah of Bertinoro. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki) argues that "Keturah" was a name given to Hagar because her deeds were as beautiful as incense (Hebrew, ketoret), and that she remained chaste (literally "tied her opening", with the verb tied in Aramaic being k-t-r) from the time she was separated from Abraham.

It is also said that Sarah was motivated by Ishmael's sexually frivolous ways because of the reference to his "making merry" (Gen. 21:9), a translation of the Hebrew word "Mitzachek". This was developed into a reference to idolatry, sexual immorality or even murder; some rabbinic sources claim that Sarah worried that Ishmael would negatively influence Isaac, or that he would demand Isaac's inheritance on the grounds of being the firstborn. Regarding the word "Mitzachek" (again in Gen. 21:9) The Jewish Study Bible by Oxford University Press says this word in this particular context is associated with "Playing is another pun on Isaac's name (cf. 17.17; 18.12; 19.14; 26.8). Ishmael was 'Isaacing', or 'taking Isaac's place'."[35] Others take a more positive view, emphasizing Hagar's piety, noting that she was "the one who had sat by the well and besought him who is the life of the worlds, saying 'look upon my misery'".[36]


Ishmael is recognized as an important prophet and patriarch of Islam. Muslims believe that Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, born to him from his second wife Hagar[37]. Ishmael is recognized by Muslims as the ancestor of several prominent Arab tribes and the forefather of Muhammad.[38] Muslims also believe that Muhammad was the descendant of Ishmael who would establish a great nation, as promised by God in the Old Testament.[39][40]

Ishmael in the Quran

Ishmael is mentioned over ten times in the Quran,[41][42] often alongside other patriarchs and prophets of ancient times. He is mentioned together with Elisha and Dhul-Kifl as one of "the patiently enduring and righteous, whom God caused to enter into his mercy."[43] It is also said of Lot, Elisha, Jonah and Ishmael, that God gave each one "preference above the worlds".[44] These references to Ishmael are, in each case, part of a larger context in which other holy prophets are mentioned. In other chapters of the Quran, however, which date from the Medina period, Ishmael is mentioned closely with his father Abraham: Ishmael stands alongside Abraham in their attempt to set up the Kaaba in Mecca as a place of monotheistic pilgrimage[45] and Abraham thanks God for granting him Ishmael and Isaac in his old age.[46] Ishmael is further mentioned alongside the patriarchs who had been given revelations[47] and Jacob's sons promised to follow the faith of their forefathers, "Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac", when testifying their faith.[48] In the narrative of the near-sacrifice of Abraham's son,[49] the son is not named and, although the general interpretation is that it was Ishmael, Tabari[50] maintained that it was Isaac. Most modern commentators, however, regard the son's identification as least important in a narrative given for its moral lesson.[51]

Ishmael in Muslim literature

Abraham sacrificing his son, Ishmael; and Abraham cast into fire by Nimrod. A miniature in the 16th-century manuscript Zubdat Al-Tawarikh.
Abraham sacrificing his son, Ishmael; and Abraham cast into fire by Nimrod. A miniature in the 16th-century manuscript Zubdat Al-Tawarikh.

The commentaries on the Quran and the numerous collections of Stories of the Prophets flesh out the Islamic perspective of Ishmael and detail what they describe as his integral part in setting up the Kaaba. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael was buried at the Hijr near the Kaaba, inside the Sacred Mosque.[52]

In Islamic belief, Abraham prayed to God for a son and God heard his prayer. Muslim exegesis states that Sarah asked Abraham to marry her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar because she herself was barren.[38] Hagar soon bore Ishmael, who was the first son of Abraham. God then instructed Abraham to take Hagar and Ishmael to the desert and leave them there. He did so, taking them to the location of the Kaaba's foundations (which now was in ruins) and as he turned away from Hagar and started to walk away she called out to him and asked "Why are you leaving us here?", to which Abraham didn't reply the first two times she asked. She then changed her question and asked "Did God command you to do this?" to which Abraham stopped, turned around, looked back and replied "Yes." She responded, "Then God will provide for us." Abraham then continued on his journey back to Sarah. In the desert, the baby Ishmael cried with thirst.[38] His mother placed him in the shade under a bush and went on a frantic search for water, which resulted in her running seven times between the Safa and Marwah hills trying to find a source of water or a passing caravan she could trade with for water. Hagar, not finding any sources of water and fearing the death of her baby, sat down and cried asking for God's help. God sent angel Gabriel to her informing her to lift up her baby and when she did, she noticed that his feet had scratched the ground allowing a spring of water to bubble up to the surface. Hagar quickly shifted the ground to form a well around the spring to contain the water, forming the Zamzam well. Hagar refilled the bottle with water and gave her baby a drink. This spring became known to caravans that traveled through Arabia and Hagar negotiated deals with them for supplies in exchange for the water. From her actions, the city of Mecca (originally Becca or Baca in Hebrew) grew, and attracted settlers who stayed and provided protection for her and Ishmael as well as being sources of various goods brought in and exchanged with visiting caravans. To commemorate the blessing of the Zamzam well God gave to Hagar and Ishmael, Muslims run between the Safa and Marwah hills retracing Hagar's steps during the rites of Hajj.[38]

Abraham returned and visited Ishmael at various times throughout his life. At one time, according to a tradition of Muhammad, Abraham had arrived when his son was out and Abraham visited with Ishmael's wife. Abraham decided to leave before seeing his son, but based upon the complaints Ishmael's wife made in response to his questions, he gave her a message to give to her husband when he returned home, which was "change his threshold." When Ishmael arrived that night, he asked if they had had any visitors, and was informed by his wife of the man who had visited and what he said. Ishmael understood his father and explained to his wife that the visitor was his father and he had been instructed to divorce his wife and find a better one, which Ishmael did. Some time after this, Abraham returned to visit Ishmael and again Ishmael was out. Abraham talked with Ishmael's new wife and found her answers indicated faith in God and contentment with her husband. Abraham again had to leave before he saw his son, but left him the message to "keep his threshold." When Ishmael returned that night, he again asked if there had been any visitors and was informed of Abraham's visit. Ishmael told his wife who it was that had come to visit and that he approved of her and their marriage.

On one of his visits to Mecca, Abraham is said to have asked his son to help him build the requested Kaaba.[53] Islamic traditions hold that the Kaaba was first built by Adam and that Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba on the old foundations.[54] As Ishmael grew up in Arabia, he is said to have become fluent in Arabic. In the genealogical trees that the early scholars drew,[55] Ishmael was considered the ancestor of the Northern Arabs and Muhammad was linked to him through the lineage of the patriarch Adnan.


In the book of Galatians (4:21–31), Paul uses the incident to symbolize the two covenants the old but fulfilled and new covenant which is universal by promise through Jesus Christ.[2] In Galatians 4:28–31,[56] Hagar is associated with the Sinai covenant, while Sarah is associated with the covenant of grace into which her son Isaac enters.[57]

Some Christians believe that God fulfills his promises to Ishmael today by blessing the Arab nations (Ishmaelites) with oil[58] and political strength.[59] There exists no evidence, other than Muhammed's own assertion, that he descended from Ishmael. In fact, the Bible clearly demonstrates Ishmael did not settle anywhere near Mecca, and that he did not marry an Arab. The Arab nations were already established centuries before. There are numerous scholars, including Muslim scholars, who admit the claim that Muhammed descended from Ishmael is a fabrication and false.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í writings state that it was Ishmael, and not Isaac, who was the son Abraham almost sacrificed.[60] But they also state that the name is unimportant as either could be used: the importance is that both were symbols of sacrifice.[61] According to Shoghi Effendi, there has also been another Ishmael, a prophet of Israel, commonly known as Samuel.[62]

See also


  1. ^ Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל, Modern: Yi'shma'el, Tiberian: Yišmāʿēl, "God hears"; Greek: Ἰσμαήλ Ismaḗl; Classical/Qur'anic Arabic: إِسْمَٰعِيْل; Modern Arabic: إِسْمَاعِيْل ʾIsmāʿīl; Latin: Ismael


  1. ^ Gibb, Hamilton A.R. and Kramers, J.H. (1965). Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. pp. 191–98.
  2. ^ a b c d Fredrick E. Greenspahn (2005) [1987]. "Ishmael". In Lindsay Jones (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion. 7. Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 4551–52. ISBN 9780028657400. ISHMAEL, or, in Hebrew, Yishmaʿeʾl; eldest son of Abraham. Ishmael's mother was Hagar, an Egyptian slave girl whom Sarah gave to Abraham because of her own infertility; in accordance with Mesopotamian law, the offspring of such a union would be credited to Sarah (Gn. 16:2). The name Yishmaʿeʾl is known from various ancient Semitic cultures and means 'God has hearkened,' suggesting that a child so named was regarded as the fulfillment of a divine promise. Ishmael was circumcised at the age of thirteen by Abraham and expelled with his mother at the instigation of Sarah, who wanted to ensure that Isaac would be Abraham's heir (Gn. 21). In the New Testament, Paul uses this incident to symbolize the relationship between Judaism, the older but now rejected tradition, and Christianity (Gal. 4:21–31). In the Genesis account, God blessed Ishmael, promising that he would be the founder of a great nation and a 'wild ass of a man' always at odds with others (Gn. 16:12). He is credited with twelve sons, described as 'princes according to their tribes' (Gn. 25:16), representing perhaps an ancient confederacy. The Ishmaelites, vagrant traders closely related to the Midianites, were apparently regarded as his descendants. The fact that Ishmael's wife and mother are both said to have been Egyptian suggests close ties between the Ishmaelites and Egypt. According to Genesis 25:17, Ishmael lived to the age of 137. Islamic tradition tends to ascribe a larger role to Ishmael than does the Bible. He is considered a prophet and, according to certain theologians, the offspring whom Abraham was commanded to sacrifice (although surah 37:99-111 of the Qur'an never names that son). Like his father Abraham, Ishmael too played an important role in making Mecca a religious center (2:127-129). Judaism has generally regarded him as wicked, although repentance is also ascribed to him. According to some rabbinic traditions, his two wives were Aisha and Fatima, whose names are the same as those of Muhammad's wife and daughter. Both Judaism and Islam see him as the ancestor of Arab peoples.
  3. ^ a b Gigot, Francis (1913). "Ismael". Catholic Encyclopedia. 8.
  4. ^ Genesis 16:3-4
  5. ^ Genesis 16:11, NJPS.
  6. ^ J. William Whedbee (28 May 1998). The Bible and the Comic Vision. Cambridge University Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-521-49507-3.
  7. ^ "Hagar". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007.
  8. ^ Genesis 25:2–6
  9. ^ Genesis 21:17–21
  10. ^ "Ishmael", Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).
  11. ^ Genesis 25:12–18
  12. ^ Schaff, Philip, ed. (1880). A Dictionary of the Bible: Including Biography, Natural History, Geography, Topography, Archæology, and Literature. Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union. p. 494 [p. 502 on–line]. Archived from the original on January 22, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  13. ^ "Mahalath", Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).
  14. ^ Genesis 25:9
  15. ^ Genesis 25:17
  16. ^ S. Nikaido (2001), p. 1
  17. ^
  18. ^ The Treasury of literature, Sect. 437
  19. ^ The Beginning of History, Volume 3, Sect.10
  20. ^ Al-Kashf Wa Al-Bayan, Vol. 11, p. 324
  21. ^ The Beginning and the End by Ibn Kathir – Vol. 3, p. 323
  22. ^ The History by Ibn Khaldun, Vol, 2, p. 4
  23. ^ The Signs of Prophethood, Section 18, page 215
  24. ^ The Collection of the Speeches of Arabs, volume 1, section 75
  25. ^
  26. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica. 10. p. 34.
  27. ^ "ISHMAEL". Retrieved 2 October 2015. Ishmael married a Moabitess named 'Adishah or 'Aishah (variants "'Ashiyah" and "'Aifah," Arabic names; Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. xxi. 21; Pirḳe R. El. l.c.); or, according to "Sefer ha-Yashar" (Wayera), an Egyptian named Meribah or Merisah.
  28. ^ Singer, Isidore; Adler, Cyrus (1906). The Jewish Encyclopedia. p. 647. Retrieved 2 October 2015. Ishmael married a Moabitess named 'Adishah or 'Aishah (variants "'Ashiyah" and "'Aifah," Arabic names; Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. xxi. 21; Pirḳe R. El. l.c.); or, according to "Sefer ha-Yashar" (Wayera), an Egyptian named Meribah or Merisah.
  29. ^ Berlin, Adele (2011). The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 384. ISBN 9780199730049. Retrieved 2 October 2015. ...In medieval Hebrew usage, Ishmael represents the muslim world (i.e., the arabs and later the turks)
  30. ^ Blenkinsopp, Joseph (2015). "7". Abraham. ISBN 9781467443777. Retrieved 2 October 2015. We already know from the basic narrative that Hagar the Egyptian provided an Egyptian wife for her son and an Egyptian daughter-in-law for herself (Gen. 21:21). The wife remained nameless, but we know this would not be for long. One suggestion in Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer (The Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer), from the eighth century, written probably under Islamic rule, is that Ishmael had two wives named Aisha and Fatima, which happen to be the names of Muhammad's wife and daughter, respectively (Pirqe R. El. 30). Rather than coincidence, this could have been a way of emphasizing the close affinity of Islamic peoples with the great prophet and founder. At all events, Ishmael (Isma'il) became the symbol, representative, and patriarch of the Arab peoples in general and, in virtue of his noble descent and Arabian origins, of Islamic peoples...
  31. ^ "The Return of Hagar", commentary on Parshah Chayei Sarah, Chabad Lubavitch.
  32. ^ "Who Was Ketura?", Bar-Ilan University's Parashat Hashavua Study Center, 2003.
  33. ^ "Parshat Chayei Sarah" Archived 2008-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, Torah Insights, Orthodox Union, 2002.
  34. ^ Bereshit Rabbah 61:4.
  35. ^ Adele Berlin; Marc Zvi Brettler (2004). The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press. p. 44. ISBN 9780195297515.
  36. ^ Jeffrey, David L., A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992, p. 326 ISBN 0-8028-3634-8
  37. ^ "Islamic Pedia - Ibrahim (the Prophet) إبراهِيم - عليه السلام".
  38. ^ a b c d A–Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Wheeler, Ishmael
  39. ^ Genesis 17:20
  40. ^ Zeep, Ira G. (2000). A Muslim primer: beginner's guide to Islam, Volume 2. University of Arkansas Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-55728-595-9.
  41. ^ "Search the word Ismail in the Quran  القران الكريم in English translation  by Shakir – Search Quran Koran Qur'an القران الكريم". Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  42. ^ "Search  the word ishmael  in the Quran  القران الكريم in English translation by Pickthal – Search Quran Koran Qur'an القران الكريم". Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  43. ^ Quran 38:48
  44. ^ Quran 6:86
  45. ^ Quran 2:127–129
  46. ^ Quran 14:35–41
  47. ^ Quran 2:136
  48. ^ Quran 2:133
  49. ^ Quran 37:100–107
  50. ^ "Isaac", Encyclopedia of Islam, volume 4
  51. ^ Glasse, C., "Ishmael", Concise Encyclopedia of Islam
  52. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam Volume 4, Ismail
  53. ^ Quran 2:127
  54. ^ Azraqi, Akhbar Makkah, vol. 1, pp. 58–66
  55. ^ Chronicles, Tabari, Vol I: From Creation to Flood
  56. ^ Galatians 4:28–31
  57. ^ Encyclopedia of Christianity(Ed. John Bowden), Isaac
  58. ^ An invitation to Ishmael by C. George Fry.
  59. ^ The Ishmael Promise and Contextualization Among Muslims by Jonathan Culver
  60. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-0-87743-187-9.
  61. ^ Cole, Juan R.I. (1995). "Interpretation in the Bahá'í Faith". Baha'i Studies Review. 5 (1).
  62. ^ "Concerning the appearance of two Davids; there is a Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá in which He says that just as there have been two Ishmaels, one the son of Abraham, and the other one of the Prophets of Israel, there have appeared two Davids, one the author of the Psalms and father of Solomon, and the other before Moses." (Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 86–87)


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