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

By Reuven Firestone | Go to book overview

PART TWO
The Syrian Prologue

INTRODUCTION

The Islamic legends of Abraham begin with his extraordinary birth and childhood in Mesopotamia. 1 Our study takes up the story at the time of Abraham's emigration 2westward toward Syria 3 and his subsequent journey to Egypt and eventually, Mecca. This is also the point at which the characters of Hagar and Ishmael enter the story.

The sources are not all in accord about the chronology of events following Abraham's emigration. Most agree, however, that Abraham marries Sarah either in the land of his birth or in Haran, where he resides briefly on his way westward. When they continue their journeys, Abraham and Sarah are confronted by a tyrant or king who would possess Sarah sexually because of her stunning beauty. The tyrant is foiled with the help of God, and gives Hagar to Sarah as a maidservant in compensation for his misdeed. Sarah, it turns out, is barren and cannot provide an heir for Abraham. She allows Abraham to have sexual relations with Hagar, who consequently gives birth to Ishmael. By this time, Abraham and his family are living in Syria at the well of Beersheba, where a conflict ensues between him and the native inhabitants. As a result, Abraham moves his family away from Beersheba. In their new abode, Abraham and Sarah are visited by angels on their way to destroy the people of Lot. 4 At about this time, Abraham brings Hagar and Ishmael to Mecca.

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Transliterations xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Chapter 1 - Biblicists and Arabs 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Nature of the Literature Islamic Interpretive Literature 11
  • Part Two - The Syrian Prologue 23
  • Chapter 3 - Abraham's Emmigration 25
  • Chapter 4 - The Tyrant 31
  • Chapter 5 - The Birth of Ishmael 39
  • Chapter 6 - Beersheba 48
  • Chapter 7 - The Angels Visit 52
  • Part Three - The Meccan Sequence 61
  • Chapter 8 - The Transfer to Mecca 63
  • Chapter 9 - The Jurhum 72
  • Chapter 10 - Abraham's Visits 76
  • Chapter 11 - Building the Ka'Ba 80
  • Chapter 12 - The Pilgrimage 94
  • Part Four - The Sacrifice 105
  • Chapter 13 - Prelude to Sacrifice 107
  • Chapter 14 - The Sacrificial Act 116
  • Chapter 15 - The Redemption 129
  • Chapter 16 - Isaac or Ishmael? 135
  • Conclusion 153
  • Part Five - Appendices 161
  • Appendix 1 - The Exegetes and Their Sources Ibn Sa'D, KitĀb Al-TabaqĀt Al-KabĪr 163
  • Appendix 2 - Traditionists Naming Isaac or Ishmael as the Intended Sacrificial Victim 170
  • Notes 179
  • Selected Bibliography 245
  • Index 259
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