Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis

By Reuven Firestone | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 3

ABRAHAM'S EMMIGRATION

The legends treating Abraham's emigration mark the transition from his earlier religious development to his maturity as leader and prophet. The culmination of his spiritual journey is reflected in his physical journey from the land of his birth to the land of Syria. 1 According to the legends, Abraham discovers the religious truth of monotheism through a series of personal experiences and trials in the land of the East, culminating in his opposition to the spurious religion of the tyrant Nimrod. Nimrod counters by having him thrown into a fiery furnace, which is miraculously cooled by a miracle of God. Abraham finally leaves his own land and people in order to worship the one God and practice his religion as he knows he must. His emigration is mentioned or assumed in the Qur'ān in "Sūras" 19:48-9, 21:71, 29:26, and 37:99, but a full picture can be found only in the exegetical literature.

Contrary to many of the later segments of the Abraham-Ishmael story, the traditions treating Abraham's emigration are striking for their variety. They agree neither about where he went nor what he did when he left his native land. Some 32 of these reports have been collected from our sources. Most consist of brief non-narrative comments concerning the path of his journey or the genealogy of Abraham and his family, although they raise a smattering of other issues as well. Some treat Abraham's circumcision or various attributes applied to him, such as his wealth and hospitality or even the kind of food he served his guests. These miscellaneous reports are rarely repeated among the sources, though some thematic repetition can be found.

Of the seventeen descriptions of the route of Abraham's journey, for example, most agree that he emigrated from some land in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley, yet three specify his origins as being in Kūthā, 2 three name the place as Babil or Babylon, two call it the land of Nimrod, and nine fail to provide any name at all. Six mention that he stopped in Haran. 3 Seven include a stop in Egypt to account for the Tyrant episode, 4 and one gives Jordan as the locus for the Tyrant legend. Schematically, then, the emigration stories are distributed as follows:

-25-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 265

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?