The Sacrifice of Ishmael or Issac – A Debate

sacrficeofisaac abraham isaac angel

I am a Structural Engineer and I am NOT an Islamic Scholar. But sometimes I do get curious about certain practices among Muslims like Animal Sacrifice and Ritualistic Sacrifice and want to open a debate whether it has sanction of Quran and Allah.

In a few days from now millions of Muslims all over the World will be slaughtering animals in the name and symbolism of Prophet Abraham attempting to sacrifice his Son.

Let’s start with the Jewish and Christian version in the Old Testament.

Sarah had a baby boy named Isaac. — Genesis 21:1–3

God wanted to know if Abraham would obey him. God told him to sacrifice Isaac on a mountain. — Genesis 22:1–2

Abraham loved his son very much. He did not want to sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham wanted to obey God. — Genesis 22:2–3

God told Abraham to go to a mountain. He took Isaac and two men with him. Abraham and Isaac rode on a donkey. They traveled for three days. – Genesis 22:3–4

The two men stayed with the donkey. Abraham and Isaac walked up the mountain. Abraham took a knife. Isaac took some wood. Genesis 22:5–6

Isaac asked where the lamb was for the sacrifice. Abraham told him not to worry. –Genesis 22:7–8

Abraham built an altar. He put wood on it.- Genesis 22:9

Abraham tied Isaac and put him on the altar. He held the knife over Isaac. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son. But an angel spoke to Abraham. He told Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had obeyed God. God loved Abraham. —Genesis 22:9–12

Abraham looked around. He saw a ram in the bushes. God had given the ram for the sacrifice. Abraham sacrificed the ram on the altar. — Genesis 22:13

God was happy Abraham had obeyed him. God said he would bless Abraham’s family.-Genesis 22:16–18

Abraham and Isaac went home. Abraham had obeyed God. He was willing to let his son die – Genesis 22:16, 19

What Abraham did was like what Heavenly Father did. Heavenly Father was willing to let his son, Jesus Christ, die for us. Heavenly Father and Abraham loved their sons. Jesus and Isaac loved their fathers and obeyed them.

Jacob 4:5

Let’s see the Quranic version .

Surah 37:

  1. “O my Lord! Grant me a righteous [son]!”
  2. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.
  3. Then, when [the son] reached [the age of] [serious] work with him, he said:

“O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy

view!” [The son] said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find

me, if Allah so wills one practicing Patience and Constancy!”

  1. So when they had both submitted their wills [to Allah], and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead [for sacrifice],
  2. We called out to him “O Abraham!
  3. “Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” – thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

The name of the child is not mentioned in the Quran maybe Allah wants us to believe that he does not discriminate between Ishmael and Isaac but Muslims gradually accepted the Child as Ishmael.

If we go to surah 37- verse 107

“And we ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice”

It is common understanding and belief that Allah gave the dream of vision to Prophet Abraham to act upon.

The Quran does not say that Allah put the vision or dream in Prophets Abrahams mind. So it is left to us to enquire whether it is from the Devil or whether it is from God .

If we go to surah 4- verse 92

4-92 : “It is not for a believer to kill a believer . Save in Error”

At the site of the sacrifice, Ishmael put his head down on a rock in preparation for the sacrifice, and Prophet Abraham, with a heavy heart, placed the knife to his son’s throat about to execute the sacrifice his Son when Allah calls out to him to stop the sacrifice.  So did Allah stop Abraham from following the Devil and stopped him from committing Human Sacrifice as Sacrifice is neither a Pillar of Islam nor a theme in the Quran.

While Animal Sacrifice and Ritualistic Sacrifice of both Animals and Humans was prevalent all over the World.

The Quran says that you can sacrifice an animal if somebody is sick so that he gets better and recovers.  And that Sacrifice can be performed by any individual at anytime and anywhere in the World.

Prophets are humans and are not infallible and can make mistakes and even be lured by the Devil.

Muslims and even the followers of all Abrahmic Religions should strictly follow only the Quran and be cautious about obeying what seems to be the will of God and practices of the Prophets and compare religious commandments with their moral sense. This is especially true for ordinary mortals like us, who learn religious commandments not from direct revelations, as the prophets do, but rather from the transmissions and interpretations of men who are capable of making mistakes or being wrong. Our guide should be not blind obedience, in other words, but reasoned deliberation.

A B Quadri – Civil Structural Design Engineer – Alumnus IIT Kharagpur.


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