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: