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

By Reuven Firestone | Go to book overview

Chapter 13

PRELUDE TO SACRIFICE

Qur'U+101n 37:99-113 reads: 37:99. [ABRAHAM) SAID: "I WILL GO TO MY LORD HE WILL SURELY GUIDE ME. 100. O MY LORD; GRANT ME A PIOUS SON!" 101. SO WE GAVE HIM THE GOOD NEWS OF A PATIENT AND FORBEARING SON. 102. WHEN HE REACHED THE AGE OF RUNNING WITH HIM, HE SAID: "O MY SON. I SEE IN A VISION THAT I WILL SACRIFICE YOU. SO LOOK, WHAT IS YOUR VIEW?" THE SON SAID: "O MY FATHER! DO AS YOU ARE COMMANDED. IF GOD WILLS, YOU WILL FIND ME PATIENT AND ENDURING!"1 103. SO WHEN THEY HAD BOTH SUBMITTED, HE LAY HIM ONTO HIS FOREHEAD. 104. AND WE CALLED OUT TO HIM, "O ABRAHAM! 105. YOU HAVE ALREADY FULFILLED THE VISION!" THUS DO WE REWARD THOSE WHO DO RIGHT. 106. FOR THIS WAS A CLEAR TRIAL. 107. WE REDEEMED HIM WITH A MAGNIFICENT SACRIFICE. 108. AND WE LEFT FOR HIM [THIS BLESSING] AMONG OTHERS: 109. "PEACE UPON ABRAHAM." 110. THUS DO WE REWARD THOSE WHO DO RIGHT. 111. FOR HE WAS ONE OF OUR BELIEVING SERVANTS. 112. AND WE GAVE HIM THE GOOD NEWS OF ISAAC-A PIOUS PROPHET. 113. WE BLESSED HIM AND ISAAC. BUT OF THEIR PROGENY ARE THOSE THAT DO RIGHT AND THOSE THAT CLEARLY DO WRONG. THEY REAP THEIR OWN REWARDS. 2

The brief qur'ānic telling of the Sacrifice occurs within a homily exhorting cynics and mockers to believe in God and the way of righteousness. After comparing the inevitable hellish fate of unbelievers with the paradise for those who accept God, it launches into a historical synopsis of the fate of ancient peoples: MOST OF THE ANCIENTS HAD EARLIER GONE ASTRAY, THOUGH WE SENT [MESSENGERS] TO WARN THEM. CONSIDER THE FATE OF THOSE WHOM WE WARNED! [ALL PERISHED] EXCEPT GOD'S TRUE SERVANTS ( Qur'U+101n 37:71-74). The homily continues with a brief summary of the prophetic acts of Noah, Abraham, Moses and Aaron, Elijah ( Ilyās), Lot, and Jonah, repeating the recur

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