Abraham in Islam

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Hebron, Cave of Machpela (14393237461).jpg
Exterior view of the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Old City of Hebron, the Holy Land
Born1996 BC
Resting placeIbrahimi Mosque, Hebron
Other namesKhalīlullāh (Arabic: خَلِيْلُ ٱللهِ, "Friend of God")
Known for
ChildrenIsma'il (Ishmael), Isḥaq (Isaac)
Parent(s)Azar (father)[1]
Mahalath (mother)
RelativesLut (nephew)

According to the Islamic faith, Abraham (Arabic: إِبْرَاهِيْمُ, romanizedʾIbrāhīm, in early quranic Manuscripts the name of the prophet Ibrāhīm occurs in two different spellings either أبرهَم(Abraham) or إبرهيم (Ibrahim).Arabic pronunciation: [ʔɪbraːˈhiːm]) was a prophet and messenger[2][3] of God, and an ancestor to the Ishmaelite Arabs and Israelites.[2][4] Abraham plays a prominent role as an example of faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.[2] In Muslim belief, Abraham fulfilled all the commandments and trials wherein God nurtured him throughout his lifetime. As a result of his unwavering faith in God, Abraham was promised by God to be a leader to all the nations of the world.[5] The Quran extols Abraham as a model, an exemplar, obedient and not an idolater.[6] In this sense, Abraham has been described as representing "primordial man in universal surrender to the Divine Reality before its fragmentation into religions separated from each other by differences in form".[7]: 18  Muslims believe that the Kaaba in Mecca was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael as the first house of worship on earth. The Islamic holy day 'Eid ul-Adha is celebrated in commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's command, as well as the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to the Kaaba.[7]

Muslims believe that Abraham, also known as Khalilullah (Arabic: خليل الله Trans: friend of God), became the leader of the righteous in his time and that it was through him that Adnanite-Arabs and Israelites came. Abraham, in the belief of Islam, was instrumental in cleansing the world of idolatry at the time. Paganism was cleared out by Abraham in both the Arabian peninsula and Canaan. He spiritually purified both places as well as physically sanctifying the houses of worship. Abraham and Isma'il (Ishmael) further established the rites of pilgrimage,[8] or Ḥajj ('Pilgrimage'), which are still followed by Muslims today. Muslims maintain that Abraham further asked God to bless both the lines of his progeny, of Isma'il and Isḥaq (Isaac), and to keep all of his descendants in the protection of God.

Quranic account and Islamic tradition[edit]


Muslims maintain that Abraham's father was Azar (Arabic: آزَر, romanizedĀzar), which could be derived from the Syriac Athar,[9] who is known in the Hebrew Bible as Terah. Abraham had two children, Ishmael and Isaac, who both later became prophets. Abraham's nephew is said to have been the messenger Lut (Lot), who was one of the other people who migrated with Abraham out of their community. Abraham himself is said to have been a descendant of Nuh through his son Shem.[10]

Personality and wisdom[edit]

Abraham's personality and character are one of the most in-depth in the whole Quran, and Abraham is specifically mentioned as being a kind and compassionate man.[11] Abraham's father is understood by Muslims to have been a wicked, ignorant and idolatrous man who ignored all of his son's advice. The relationship between Abraham and his father, who in the Quran is named Azar, is central to Abraham's story as Muslims understand it to establish a large part of Abraham's personality. The Quran mentions that Abraham's father threatened to stone his son to death if he did not cease preaching to the people.[12] Despite this, the Qur'an states that Abraham in his later years prayed to God to forgive the sins of all his descendants and his parents. Muslims have frequently cited Abraham's character as an example of how kind one must be towards people, especially one's own parents. A similar example of Abraham's compassionate nature is demonstrated when Abraham began to pray for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah after hearing of God's plan through the angel Gabriel for them. Although the angel Gabriel told Abraham that God's plan was the final word, and therefore Abraham's prayers would be of no effect, the Quran nonetheless reinforces Abraham's kind nature through this particular event.[13]


Ruins in the ancient Iraqi city of Ur, 2016, where Ibrahim is thought to have been born, and are thus named "Abraham's House" (30°57′42.75″N 46°06′21.3″E / 30.9618750°N 46.105917°E / 30.9618750; 46.105917)
The Ziggurat of Ur, where idolatry was practiced in ancient times, in 2010

Ibrahim was born in a house of idolaters in the ancient city of Ur of the Chaldees, likely the place called 'Ur' in present-day Iraq, in which case, the idolaters would have been practitioners of the hypothesized Ancient Mesopotamian religion.[14] His father Azar was a well-known idol-sculptor that his people worshiped. As a young child, Ibrahim used to watch his father sculpting these idols from stones or wood. When his father was finished with them, Ibrahim would ask his father why they could not move or respond to any request and then would mock them; therefore, his father would always scold him for not following his ancestors' rituals and mocking their idols.[15]

Despite his opposition to idolatry, his father Azar would still send Ibrahim to sell his idols in the marketplace. Once there, Ibrahim would call out to passersby, "Who will buy my idols? They will not help you and they cannot hurt you! Who will buy my idols?" Then Ibrahim would mock the idols. He would take them to the river, push their faces into the water and command them, "Drink! Drink!" Once again, Ibrahim asked his father, "How can you worship what does not see or hear or do you any good?" Azar replied, "Dare you deny the gods of our people? Get out of my sight!" Ibrahim replied, "May God forgive you. No more will I live with you and your idols." After this, Ibrahim left his father's home for good. During one of the many festivals that would take place in the city, the people would gather in their temple and place offerings of food before their idols. Ur's most prominent temple is the Great Ziggurat, which can be seen today.[16] Ibrahim would ask them, "What are you worshiping? Do these idols hear when you call them? Can they help you or hurt you?" The people would reply, "It is the way of our forefathers." Ibrahim declared "I am sick of your gods! Truly I am their enemy."[17] After several years, Ibrahim became a young man. He still could not believe that his people were worshipping the statues. He laughed whenever he saw them entering the temple, lowering their heads, silently offering the statues the best of their food, crying and asking forgiveness from them. He started feeling angry towards his people, who could not realize that these are only stones that could neither benefit nor harm them.[18]

Searching for the truth[edit]

One night, Abraham went up to the mountain, leaned against a rock, and looked up to the sky. He saw a shining star and said to himself, "Could this be my Lord?" But when it set he said: "I don't like those that set." The star had disappeared so it could not be God. God is always present. Then he saw the moon rising in splendor and said, "Could this be my Lord?" but the moon also set. At daybreak, he saw the sun rising and said, "Could this be my Lord? This is the biggest and brightest!" But when the sun also set he said, "O my people! I am free from all that you join as partners with God! I have turned my face towards God who created the heavens and the earth and never shall I associate partners with God. Our Lord is the creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in between. He has the power to make the stars rise and set." After this declaration, Abraham then heard God calling him, "O Abraham " Abraham trembled and said, "Here I am O my Lord!" God replied, "Submit to Me!"Abraham fell to the ground, crying. He said: "I submit to the Lord of the universe!" Abraham kept prostrating himself until nightfall. He then got up and went back to his home, in peace and full of conviction that God has guided him to the truth.

The great fire[edit]

The decision to have Abraham burned at the stake was affirmed by the temple priests and the king of Babylon, Nimrod. The news spread like fire in the kingdom and people were coming from all places to watch the execution. A huge pit was dug up and a large quantity of wood was piled up. Then the biggest fire people ever witnessed was lit. The flames were so high up in the sky that even the birds could not fly over it for fear of being burnt themselves. Ibrahim's hands and feet were chained, and he was put in a catapult, ready to be thrown in. During this time, Angel Jibril came to him and said: "O Ibrahim! Is there anything you wish for?" Ibrahim could have asked to be saved from the fire or to be taken away, but Ibrahim replied, "God is sufficient for me, He is the best disposer of my affairs." The catapult was released and Ibrahim was thrown into the fire. God then gave an order to the fire, "O fire! Be coolness and safety for Ibrahim." A miracle occurred, the fire obeyed and burned only his chains. Abraham came out from it as if he was coming out from a garden, peaceful, his face illuminated, and not a trace of smoke on his clothes. People watched in shock and exclaimed: "Amazing! Abraham's God has saved him from the fire!"[citation needed]

Confrontation with Nimrod[edit]

The Quran discusses a very short conversation between an unrighteous ruler and Abraham.[19] Although the king in the Quran is unnamed, and this fact has been recognized as being least important in the narrative, outside of the Quran, namely in some of the tafasir,[20] this king has been suggested to be Nimrod.[21] This Tafsir by Ibn Kathir, a 14th-century scholar, has many embellishments in the narrative like Nimrod claiming divinity for himself. The Tafsir describes Nimrod's quarrel with Ibrahim, how he (Nimrod) became extremely angry and in his 'utter disbelief and arrant rebellion' became a tyrant.[22]

According to Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Nimrod was a man who set his will against that of God. Nimrod proclaimed himself as a living god and was worshipped as such by his subjects. Nimrod's consort Semiramis was also worshipped as a goddess at his side. (See also Ninus.) Before Abraham was born, a portent in the stars tells Nimrod and his astrologers of the impending birth of Abraham, who would put an end to idolatry. Nimrod therefore orders the killing of all newborn babies. However, Abraham's mother escapes into the fields and gives birth secretly. Flavius Josephus mentions that Abraham confronts Nimrod and tells him face-to-face to cease his idolatry, whereupon Nimrod orders him burned at the stake. Nimrod has his subjects gather enough wood so as to burn Abraham in the biggest fire the world had ever seen. Yet when the fire is lit and Abraham is thrown into it, Abraham walks out unscathed. In Islam, it is debated whether the decision to have Ibrahim burned at the stake came from Nimrod and the temple priests or whether the people themselves became vigilantes and hatched the plan to have him burned at the stake. According to Muslim commentators, after Abraham survived the great fire, notoriety in society grew bigger after this event. Nimrod, who was the King of Babylon felt that his throne was in danger, and that he was losing power because upon witnessing Ibrahim coming out of the fire unharmed, a large part of society started believing in God and Abraham being a prophet of God. Up until this point, Nimrod was pretending that he himself was a god. Nimrod wanted to debate with him and show his people that he, the king is indeed the god and that Ibrahim was a liar. Nimrod asked Ibrahim, "What can your God do that I cannot?" Ibrahim replied, "My Lord is He who gives life and death." Nimrod then shouted, "I give life and death! I can bring a person from the street and have him executed, and I can grant my pardon to a person who was sentenced to death and save his life." Abraham replied, "Well, my lord God makes the sun rise from the East. Can you make it rise from the West?" Nimrod was confounded. He was beaten at his own game, on his own territory and in front of his own people. Abraham left him there speechless and went back to his mission of calling people to worship God.[23][24]

This event has been noted as particularly important because, in the Muslim perspective, it almost foreshadowed the prophetic careers of future prophets, most significantly the career of Moses. Abraham's quarrel with the king has been interpreted by some to be a precursor to Moses's preaching to Pharaoh. Just as the ruler who argued against Abraham claimed divinity for himself, so did the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who refused to hear the call of Moses and perished in the Red Sea. In this particular incident, scholars have further commented on Abraham's wisdom in employing "rational, wise and target-oriented" speech, as opposed to pointless arguments.[25]

Abraham, in the eyes of many Muslims, also symbolized the highest moral values essential to any person. The Qur'an details the account of the angels coming to Abraham to tell him of the birth of Ismael. It says that, as soon as Abraham saw the messengers, he "hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf."[26] This action has been interpreted by all the scholars as exemplary; many scholars have commentated upon this one action, saying that it symbolizes Abraham's exceedingly high moral level and thus is a model for how men should act in a similar situation. This incident has only further heightened the "compassionate" character of Abraham in Muslim theology.[27]


Ibrahim's Sacrifice; Timurid Anthology, 1410–1411

Abraham's dream of sacrificing his firstborn son Ismael was a command by God.

As stated in the Quran 37: verse 100 - 107, it was the firstborn son Ismael.

The reference verses are in the Surah As-Saffat (verse 100-107) The Saheeh International English Translation of these verses is as follows;

100. My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous." 101. So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy. 102. And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast." 103. And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, 104. We called to him, "O Abraham, 105. You have fulfilled the vision." Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. 106. Indeed, this was the clear trial. 107. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, (Zibhin azeem).[28] This great sacrifice denotes the importance of the ram that replaced Ibraheem's son. Tafsir ibn Kathir records Ibn Abbas' explanation of the verse, according to Muhammad's teachings. The explanation is as follows:[29]

"And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice" (37:107). It was reported that Ibn `Abbas (may God be pleased with him) said, "A ram which had grazed in Paradise for forty years.''

The Tafsir further goes on to say that the ram's horns were preserved until the time of Muhammad:[29]

Imam Ahmad recorded that Safiyyah bint Shaybah said, "A woman from Bani Sulaym, who was the midwife of most of the people in our household, told me that the Messenger of God sent for `Uthman bin Talhah, may God be pleased with him.'' On one occasion she said, "I asked `Uthman, `Why did the Prophet call you' He said, `The Messenger of God said to me, I saw the horns of the ram when I entered the House (i.e., the Ka`bah), and I forgot to tell you to cover them up; cover them up, for there should not be anything in the House which could distract the worshipper.)''' Sufyan said, "The horns of the ram remained hanging in the House until it was burned, and they were burned too.'' The Quraysh had inherited the horns of the ram that Abraham sacrificed, and they had been passed down from generation to generation, until the Messenger of God was sent. And God knows best.

From that day onwards, every Eid al-Adha once a year Muslims around the world slaughter an animal to commemorate Abraham's sacrifice and to remind themselves of self-abnegation in the way of God, and they would share the meat among friends, family, the poor and the needy. This is called Qurbani ("sacrifice").[30]

Tabari's account[edit]

The classical Quranic exegete and historian Tabari offered two versions, whom Abraham was ordered to sacrifice. According to the first strand, Abraham wished for a righteous son, whereupon an angel appeared to him informing him, that he will get a righteous son, but when he was born and reached puberty, he must be sacrificed for God. Later, the angel appeared to Hagar to inform her about the upcoming child. When Ishmael was grown, someone appeared to Abraham, invites him to keep his vow.[31]

When Ishmael was grown, someone appeared to Abraham in a dream and said to him: "Keep your vow which you made! God bestowed upon you a boy by Hagar so that you may sacrifice him" So he said to Ishmael: "Let us go offer a sacrifice to God!" So he took a knife and some rope and went with him until they reached a place in the mountains. The boy said to him: "Oh father! Where is your sacrifice?" He replied: "Oh my son, I saw in a dream, that I will slaughter you. So pay attention to what you see". He said, "Oh my father, do what you have been commanded; you will find me, Insha-Allah (if God wills), one of the patient". Ishmael then said to him: "Make tight my bonds, so that I will not struggle to pull back your clothes so that none of my blood will be shed on them for Hagar will see it and be grieved. Hurry! Pass the knife over my throat so that death will be easy for me. When you come to Hagar, greet her'. Abraham began to approach him and, while crying, tied him up. Ishmael too was crying such that the tears gathered by the cheek of Ishmael. He then drew the knife along his throat but the knife did not cut, for God had placed a sheet of copper on the throat of Ishmael. When he saw that, he turned him on his forehead and nicked him on the back of the head just as God has said in Quran 37:103: When they had both submitted and he flung on his forehead, that is they had submitted the affair to God. A voice called out: 'Abraham, you have fulfilled the vision!" He turned around and behold, there was a ram. He took it and released his son and he bent over his son saying: "Oh my son, today you have been given to me". That comes in God's saying in Quran 37:107: We ransomed him with a great sacrifice.

The second strand, provided by Tabari, states that Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Ishmael, and Iblis appeared in form of a man to prevent the sacrifice.

Iblis (Satan), who had taken on the form of a man, said: "Where are you going, O Shaikh?" He replied: " I am going to these mountains because I must do something there'. Iblis said: "By God, I have seen that Shaytan has come to you in a dream and ordered you to slaughter this little son of yours. And you intend to do that slaughtering!" Thereupon Abraham recognized him and said: "Get away from me, enemy of God! By God, I will most certainly continue to do what my Lord has commanded". Iblis, the enemy of God, gave up on Abraham but then he encountered Ishmael, who was behind Abraham carrying the wood and the large knife. He said to him: "O young man, do you realize where your father is taking you?" He said: "To gather wood for our family from the mountains". He replied: "By God, his actual intention is to sacrifice you!" He said: "Why?!" Iblis replied: "He claims that his Lord has ordered him to do so!" Ishmael replied: "He must do what his Lord commands, absolutely!" When the young man had rebuffed him, Iblis went to Hagar, the mother of Ishmael who was still at home. Iblis said to her: "Oh mother of Ishmael! Do you realize where Abraham is going with Ishmael?" She replied: "They have gone to gather wood for us in the mountains". He said: "He has actually gone in order to sacrifice him!" She replied: "It cannot be! He is too kind and too loving towards him to do that!" Iblis said: "He claims that God has ordered him to do that!" Hagar said: "If his Lord has ordered him to do that then he must submit to the command of God!" So the enemy of God returned exasperated at not being able to influence the family of Abraham as he wished.


Abraham encountered several miracles of God during his lifetime. The Quran records a few main miracles, although different interpretations have been attributed to the passages. Some of the miracles recorded in the Quran are:

  • Abraham was shown the kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth.[32]
  • Abraham and the miracle of the birds.[33]
  • Abraham was thrown into a fire, which became "cool" and "peaceful" for him.[34]

The first passage has been interpreted both literally, allegorically, and otherwise. Although some commentators feel that this passage referred to a physical miracle, where Abraham was physically shown the entire kingdom of Heaven (Jannah),[35] others have felt that it refers to the spiritual understanding of Abraham; these latter scholars maintain that the Chaldeans were skilled in the observance of the stars, but Abraham, who lived amongst them, saw beyond the physical world and into a higher spiritual realm. The second passage has one mainstream interpretation amongst the Quranic commentators, that Abraham took four birds and cut them up, placing pieces of each on nearby hills; when he called out to them, each piece joined and four birds flew back to Abraham.[36] This miracle, as told by the Quranic passage, was a demonstration by God to show Abraham how God gave life to the dead. As the physical cutting of the birds is not implied in the passage, some commentators have offered alternative interpretations, but all maintain that the miracle was for the same demonstrative purpose to show Abraham the power God has to raise the dead to life.[37] The third passage has also been interpreted both literally and metaphorically, or in some cases both. Commentators state that the 'fire' refers to the main aspects. They maintained that, firstly, the fire referred to the physical flame, from which Abraham was saved unharmed. The commentators further stated that, secondly, the fire referred to the 'fire of persecution', from which Abraham was saved, as he left his people after this with his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot.[38]


Abraham is given the title Khalilullah (Arabic: خَلِیْل‌ ٱلله, romanizedḪalīl Allāḥ, lit.'Friend of God') in Islam.[4] The Quran says:

Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to God, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in Faith? For God did take Abraham for a friend.

— Qur’an, surah 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 125[39]

This particular title of Abraham is so famous in Muslim culture and tradition that, in the areas in and around Mecca, Abraham is often referred to solely as The Friend.[40] This title of Friend of God is not exclusive to Islamic theology. Although the other religious traditions do not stress upon it, Abraham is called a Friend of God in the second Book of Chronicles and the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)[41] as well as in the New Testament.[42]

Relationship with Islamic shrines[edit]

One of Abraham's most important features in Islamic theology is his role as the constructor of the Kaaba. Although tradition recounts that Adam constructed the original Kaaba, which was demolished by the Great Flood at the time of Noah, Abraham is believed to have rebuilt it in its original form. The Quran, in the Muslim perspective, merely confirms or reinforces the laws of pilgrimage. The rites were instituted by Abraham and for all Muslims, as they perform the pilgrimage, the event is a way to return to the perfection of Abraham's faith.[43] Just as Medina is referred to as the "City of the Prophet [Muhammad]" or simply the "City of Muhammad", Mecca is frequently cited as the "City of Abraham", because Abraham's reformation of the monotheistic faith is believed to have taken place in Mecca.[7] Likewise, Islamic belief links the original sanctuary of Al-Aqsa in the Old City of Jerusalem to Abraham.[44]


The Quran refers to certain Scrolls of Abraham. All Muslim scholars have generally agreed that no scrolls of Abraham survive, and therefore this is a reference to a lost body of scripture.[45] The Scrolls of Abraham are understood by Muslims to refer to certain revelations Abraham received, which he would have then transmitted to writing. The exact contents of the revelation are not described in the Qur'an.

The 87th chapter of the Quran, Surat al-Ala, concludes by saying the subject matter of the sura has been in the earlier scriptures of Abraham and Moses. It is slightly indicative of what were in the previous scriptures, according to Islam:

Therefore give admonition in case the admonition profits (the hearer).
The admonition will be received by those who fear (God):
But it will be avoided by those most unfortunate ones,
Who will enter the Great Fire,
In which they will then neither die nor live.
But those will prosper who purify themselves,
And glorify the name of their Guardian-Lord, and (lift their hearts) in prayer.
Nay (behold), ye prefer the life of this world;
But the Hereafter is better and more enduring.
And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelation),-
The Books of Abraham and Moses.

Surat an-Najm mentions some more subject matters of the earlier scriptures of Abraham and Musa (Moses):

Nay, is he not acquainted with what is in the Books of Moses-
And of Abraham who fulfilled his engagements?-
Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another;
That man can have nothing but what he strives for;
That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight:
Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete;
That to thy Lord is the final Goal;
That it is He Who granteth Laughter and Tears;
That it is He Who granteth Death and Life;
That He did create in pairs,- male and female,
From a seed when lodged (in its place);
That He hath promised a Second Creation (Raising of the Dead);
That it is He Who giveth wealth and satisfaction;
That He is the Lord of Sirius (the Mighty Star);
And that it is He Who destroyed the (powerful) ancient 'Ad (people),
And the Thamud nor gave them a lease of perpetual life.
And before them, the people of Noah, for that they were (all) most unjust and most insolent transgressors,
And He destroyed the Overthrown Cities (of Sodom and Gomorrah).
So that (ruins unknown) have covered them up.
Then which of the gifts of thy Lord, (O man,) wilt thou dispute about?
This is a Warner, of the (series of) Warners of old!
The (Judgment) ever approaching draws nigh:
No (soul) but God can lay it bare.
Do ye then wonder at this recital?
And will ye laugh and not weep,-
Wasting your time in vanities?
But fall ye down in prostration to God, and adore (Him)!

Yet some scholars[by whom?] suggested it to be a reference to the Sefer Yetzirah, as Jewish tradition generally ascribed its authorship to Abraham.[citation needed] Other scholars, however, wrote of a certain Testament of Abraham, which they explained was available at the time of Muhammad.[46]

The Quran contains numerous references to Abraham, his life, prayers, and traditions and has a dedicated chapter named Ibrahim. On a relevant note, sura al-Kahf was revealed as an answer from God to the Jews who inquired of Muhammad about past events. Here God directly instructed Muhammad in sura Al-Kahf, not to consult the Jews for verifying the three stories about which they inquired.

Enter not, therefore, into controversies concerning them, except on a matter that is clear, nor consult any of them about (the affair of) the Sleepers.

— Quran 18:22

The reason being God declaring He Himself is relating what needs to be verified in another verse of al-Kahf:

We relate to thee their story in truth: they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance:

— Quran 18:13

Regarding consultation with the People of the Book, it is also narrated by Abu Hurairah in hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The people of the Scripture (Jews) used to recite the Torah in Hebrew and they used to explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. On that God's Apostle said, "Do not believe the people of the Scripture or disbelieve them, but say:-- "We believe in God and what is revealed to us."

Therefore, relating to any ascription of the Scrolls of Abraham by the people of the book is not required.

Significance as a patriarch[edit]

Abraham is also extremely important as a leader of Islam and as a patriarch of the Islamic faith. Muslims recognize Abraham as the ancestor through whom many other prophets and saints (Wali) came, including Moses, Jesus (Isa) and Muhammad. The Quran lists, in the sixth chapter, some of the greatest figures to have through Abraham's progeny:

That was the reasoning about Us, which We gave to Abraham (to use) against his people: We raise whom We will, degree after degree: for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge.
We gave him Isaac and Jacob: all (three) guided: and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron: thus do We reward those who do good:
And Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous:
And Isma'il and Elisha, and Jonah, and Lot: and to all, We gave favor above the nations:
(To them) and to their fathers, and progeny and brethren: We chose them, and we guided them to a straight way.

— Qur’an, surah 6 (Al-An'am), ayat 83-87[47]

Abraham's narrative in the Quran indirectly refers to his role as one of the great patriarchs. The Quran says that God made Abraham "an Imam to the Nations"[5] and father to Muslims,[48] and his narrative records him praying for his offspring.[49] The Quran further states that Abraham's descendants were given "the Book and Wisdom",[50] and this fact is reinforced in a verse which states that Abraham's family was one of those in which the gift of prophecy was established as a generic trait.[51] The Quran emphasizes upon Abraham's significance as it states that Abraham's family, Noah, Adam and the family of Amram were the four selected by God above all the worlds.[52] As a result of his significance as a patriarch, Abraham is sometimes given the title Father of the Prophets. Of Abraham's immediate sons, the Quran repeatedly establishes the gifts God bestowed upon them. Ishmael, along with Elisha and Dhul-Kifl (possibly Ezekiel), is regarded as being "of the Company of the Good."[53] and one of the men who was given "favour above the nations."[54] In addition, Ishmael is described as being "true to what he promised, and he was a messenger (and) a prophet."[55] Likewise, the Quran says of Isaac that he was "of the company of the Elect and the Good."[56] and was "a prophet,- one of the Righteous."[57] and further describes him as "of Power and Vision."[58] Abraham is commemorated by all Muslims. As is the case with every prophet and apostle, it is Islamic custom to say "Peace be upon him" after saying Abraham's name. Abraham's unique position as the constructor of the Ka‘bah, as well as the establisher of the pilgrimage rites, is indirectly commemorated when Muslims perform the pilgrimage, or Hajj, in Mecca. Muslims sacrifice (Qurban) a domestic animal on Eid al-Adha, which is done in part to remember Abraham's bravery during his trial of the near-sacrifice of his son. Muslims further mention Abraham in their canonical prayer every day, in which they ask God to bless Muhammad's family as He blessed Abraham's family.

Burial place[edit]

Muslims believe that Abraham was buried, along with his wife Sarah, at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Old City of Hebron, the West Bank. Known to Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham it is also thought to be the burial site of his son Isaac, his wife Rebecca, their son Jacob, and his wife Leah.[59][60]

Narrative in the Quran[edit]


There are numerous references to Abraham in the Quran, including, twice, to the Scrolls of Abraham;[61] in the latter passage, it is mentioned that Abraham "fulfilled his engagements?-",[62] a reference to all the trials that Abraham had succeeded in. In a whole series of chapters, the Qur'an relates how Abraham preached to his community as a youth and how he specifically told his father, named Azar,[1] to leave idol-worship and come to the worship of God.[63] Some passages of the Quran, meanwhile, deal with the story of how God sent angels to Abraham with the announcement of the punishment to be imposed upon Lot's people in Sodom and Gomorrah.[64] Other verses mention the near-sacrifice of Abraham's son,[28] whose name is not given but is presumed to be Ishmael as the following verses mention the birth of Isaac.[7] The Quran also repeatedly establishes Abraham's role as patriarch and mentions numerous important descendants who came through his lineage, including Isaac,[65] Jacob[66] and Ishmael.[67] In the later chapters of the Quran, Abraham's role becomes yet more prominent. The Quran mentions that Abraham and Ishmael were the reformers who set up the Ka‘bah in Mecca as a center of pilgrimage for monotheism[68] The Quran consistently refers to Islam as "the Religion of Abraham" (millat Ibrahim)[69] and Abraham is given a title as Hanif (The Pure, "true in Faith" or "upright man").[70] The Quran also mentions Abraham as one whom God took as a friend (Khalil),[39] hence Abraham's title in Islam, Khalil-Allah (Friend of God). The term is considered by some to be a derivation of the patriarch's title, Qal El (Hebrew: קל-אל, "Voice of God").[71][72] Other instances in the Quran which are described in a concise manner are the rescue of Abraham from the fire into which he was thrown by his people';[73][74] his pleading for his father;[75] his quarrel with an unrighteous and powerful king[76] and the miracle of the dead birds.[33]

All these events and more have been discussed with more details in Muslim tradition, and especially in the Stories of the Prophets and works of universal Islamic theology.[77] Certain episodes from the life of Abraham have been more heavily detailed in Islamic text, such as the arguments between Abraham and the evil king, Nimrod, the near-sacrifice of his son, and the story of Hagar and Ishmael, which Muslims commemorate when performing pilgrimage in Mecca. An important Islamic religious holiday, Eid al-Adha, commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead.[78] In some cases, some believe these legends in Islamic text may have influenced later Jewish tradition.[79]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Quran 6:74
  2. ^ a b c Sajjadi, Sadeq (2015) [2008]. "Abraham". In Madelung, Wilferd; Daftary, Farhad (eds.). Encyclopaedia Islamica. Vol. 1. Translated by Negahban, Farzin. Leiden and Boston: Brill Publishers. doi:10.1163/1875-9831_isla_COM_0028. ISBN 978-90-04-16860-2. ISSN 1875-9823.
  3. ^ Quran 87:19
  4. ^ a b Siddiqui, Mona. "Ibrahim – the Muslim view of Ibrahim". Religions. BBC. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b Quran 2:124
  6. ^ Quran 16:120
  7. ^ a b c d Glassé, Cyril (1991). "Abraham". Kaaba. The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. HarperSanFrancisco, Suhail Academy. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-0606-3126-0.
  8. ^ Quran 2:128
  9. ^ Geiger 1898 Judaism and Islam: A Prize Essay, p. 100
  10. ^ "Ibrahim". Encyclopedia of Islam, Online version.
  11. ^ Quran 11:75
  12. ^ Quran 19:46
  13. ^ Lives of the Prophets, L. Azzam, Suhail Academy Co.
  14. ^ Jacobsen, Thorkild. "Mesopotamian religion". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  15. ^ "QTafsir Tafsir Ibn Kathir Mobile". m.qtafsir.com.
  16. ^ Zettler, R. L.; Horne, L., eds. (1998), Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  17. ^ "Abraham and the Idols (Middle Eastern, Islamic, Muslim Legends, Stories)". aaronshep.com.
  18. ^ Pan India Internet Pvt Ltd. "Ibrahim - Father of Prophets - Prophets of Muslim community - Prophet Ibrahim". festivalsofindia.in. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Quran translation Comparison | Al-Quran Surah 2. Al-Baqara, Ayah 258 | Alim". www.alim.org. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Tafsir Surah 2:258". quranx.com. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  21. ^ History of the Prophets and Kings, Tabari, Vol. I: Prophets and Patriarchs
  22. ^ Ibn Kathir, Umar. "Tafsir ibn Kathir". p. See section: 2.258 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir.
  23. ^ "The Father of the Prophets". islamicity.com.
  24. ^ "Ibn Kathir: Story of Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham (pbuh)". islamawareness.net.
  25. ^ Book 1: The Prophet Abraham, Harun Yahya, The Unbeliever Advised By Abraham, Online. web.
  26. ^ Quran 11:69
  27. ^ Book 1: The Prophet Abraham, Harun Yahya, Angels Who Visited Abraham, Online. web.
  28. ^ a b Quran 37:100–111
  29. ^ a b c ShareIslam. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir - English [37. As-Saffat - Verse: 104]". www.recitequran.com. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  30. ^ "Deeper Meaning of Sacrifice in Islam" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  31. ^ Rippin, Andrew; Knappert, Jan (15 October 1990). Textual Sources for the Study of Islam. The University of Chicago Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-2267-2063-0.
  32. ^ Quran 6:75
  33. ^ a b Quran 2:260
  34. ^ Quran 21:68–70
  35. ^ The Book of Certainty, M. Lings, S. Academy Publishing
  36. ^ Stories of the Prophets, Kisa'i/Kathir, Story of Abraham
  37. ^ Quran: Text, Translation, Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, note. 285
  38. ^ Quran: Text, Translation, Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, note. 2703
  39. ^ a b Quran 4:125
  40. ^ Mecca: From Before Genesis Until Now, M. Lings. Archetype Books
  41. ^ Isaiah 41:8 and 2 Chronicles 20:7
  42. ^ James 2:23
  43. ^ Lings, Martin (1983). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Islamic Texts Society. ISBN 978-0-946621-33-0.
  44. ^ a b c Michigan Consortium for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (1986). Goss, V. P.; Bornstein, C. V. (eds.). The Meeting of Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange Between East and West During the Period of the Crusades. Vol. 21. Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. p. 208. ISBN 0918720583.
  45. ^ A-Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, B. M. Wheeler, Abraham
  46. ^ Tafsir and Commentary on 87: 18-19 & 53: 36-37, Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad
  47. ^ Quran 6:83–87. See also Islamic view of David, Islamic view of Solomon, Job (prophet) and Islamic view of Joseph
  48. ^ Quran 22:78
  49. ^ Quran 14:35
  50. ^ Quran 4:54
  51. ^ Quran 19:58
  52. ^ Quran 3:33
  53. ^ Quran 38:48
  54. ^ Quran 6:86
  55. ^ Quran 19:54
  56. ^ Quran 38:47
  57. ^ Quran 37:112
  58. ^ Quran 38:45
  59. ^ Emmett, Chad F. (2000). "Sharing Sacred Space in the Holy Land". In Murphy, Alexander B.; Johnson, Douglas L.; Haarmann, Viola (eds.). Cultural encounters with the environment: enduring and evolving geographic themes. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 271–291. ISBN 978-0-7425-0106-5.
  60. ^ Gish, Arthur G. (20 December 2018). Hebron Journal: Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-5326-6213-3.
  61. ^ Quran 87:18–19 and 53:36–37
  62. ^ Quran 53:37
  63. ^ Quran 37:83–89, 26:68–89, 19:41–50, 43:26–28, 21:51–73, 29:16–28 and 6:74–84
  64. ^ Quran 52:24–34, 25:51–60, 11:69–76 and 29:31
  65. ^ Quran 25:53
  66. ^ Quran 29:49, 21:72, 29:27, 6:84, 11:71 and 38:45–47
  67. ^ Quran 2:132–133
  68. ^ Quran 2:123–141, 3:65–68, 3:95–97, 4:125, 4:26–29 and 22:78
  69. ^ Quran 2:135
  70. ^ Quran 3:67
  71. ^ Weinstein, Simcha (2006). Up, Up, and Oy Vey! (1st ed.). Leviathan Press. ISBN 978-1-881927-32-7
  72. ^ World Jewish Digest (Aug 2006; posted online 25 July 2006): "Superman's Other Secret Identity", by Jeff Fleischer
  73. ^ Quran 37:97 and 21:68–70
  74. ^ 21:51–73
  75. ^ Quran 28:47
  76. ^ Quran 2:58
  77. ^ Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Ibrahim; Tales of the Prophets, Kisa'i, Ibrahim
  78. ^ Diversity Calendar: Eid al-Adha Archived 19 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine University of Kansas Medical Center
  79. ^ J. Eisenberg, EI, Ibrahim


Further reading[edit]


Abraham and the Kaaba[edit]

  • Martin Lings, Mecca: From Before Genesis Until Now, Archetype
  • Leila Azzam, Lives of the Prophets, Abraham and the Kaaba, Suhail Academy

Abraham's life[edit]

External links[edit]