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The Incomplete Quran Revisited: The Story of Ishmael

The Quran repeatedly claims to be a clear scripture that provides a fully detailed explanation of everything:

This Quran could not possibly be authored by other than GOD. It confirms all previous messages, and provides a fully detailed scripture. It is infallible, for it comes from the Lord of the universe. S. 10:37 Rashad Khalifa

Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (the Qur’an) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of the Allah’s existing Books [the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel) and other Scriptures of Allah] and a detailed explanation of everything and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe. S. 12:111 Hilali-Khan

One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. S. 16:89 Abdullah Yusuf Ali

A Book whereof the Verses are explained in detail; A Qur’an in Arabic for people who know. S. 41:3 Hilali-Khan

In light of this, I present some questions concerning Ishmael for Muslims to answer using only their so-called sacred book.

Prove that Ishmael’s mother was someone other than the mother of Isaac. In fact, show us where the Quran is even aware that Abraham had more than one wife, or that he fathered eight sons from three different women.

Prove from the Quran that Ishmael and his mother settled in Mecca in Arabia.

Prove from the Quran that the house of worship that Abraham and Ishmael supposedly built is the Kabah in Mecca.

Though the Islamic scripture records a fictional tale of Abraham and Ishmael constructing a house of worship, it fails to mention when and where this mythical building was built:

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.” He pleaded: “And also (Imams) from my offspring!” He answered: “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.” Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Isma’il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And remember Abraham said: “My Lord, make this a City of Peace, and feed its people with fruits, – such of them as believe in God and the Last Day.” He said: “(Yea), and such as reject Faith, – for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire, – an evil destination (indeed)!” And remember Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing. Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. Our Lord! send amongst them an Apostle of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” S. 2:124-129

Prove from the Quran that Muhammad was a physical descendant of Ishmael or Abraham.

Prove that Ishmael married an Arab woman.

As far as God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is concerned Ishmael never settled in Mecca in Arabia, and never married an Arab. He rather married an Egyptian woman and settled in the wilderness of Paran:

“So the child grew and was weaned. Then Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Throw out this slave woman and her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son, Isaac.’ This matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be upset concerning the boy and your slave wife. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to what she says, for in Isaac your descendants will be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the slave woman, because he is your offspring.’ So Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and sent her away with the child. So she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she placed the child under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of out a bowshot, for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the child.’ She sat across from him, and lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the boy’s voice. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Arise, pick up the boy and hold him in your hands, for I will make him a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy; and he grew and lived in the wilderness and became an archer. He lived in the Wilderness of Paran, and his mother found a wife for him out of the land of Egypt.” Genesis 21:8-21

Note that neither the wilderness of Beersheba nor Paran are in Mecca or even Medina:

Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Well of the oath, or well of seven, a well dug by Abraham, and so named because he and Abimelech here entered into a compact (Genesis 21:31). On re-opening it, Isaac gave it the same name (Genesis 26:31-33). It was a favourite place of abode of both of these patriarchs (21:3322:1, 19; 26:3328:10). It is mentioned among the “cities” given to the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:21 Chronicles 4:28). From Dan to Beersheba, a distance of about 144 miles (Judges 20:11 Chronicles 21:22 Samuel 24:2), became the usual way of designating the whole Promised Land, and passed into a proverb. After the return from the Captivity the phrase is narrowed into “from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom” (Nehemiah 11:30). The kingdom of the ten tribes extended from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim (2 Chronicles 19:4). The name is not found in the New Testament. It is still called by the Arabs Bir es-Seba, i.e., “well of the seven”, where there are to the present day two principal wells and five smaller ones. It is nearly midway between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

BEERSHEBA

be-er-she’-ba (be’er shebha`; Bersabee): Allotted originally to Simeon (Joshua 19:2), one of “the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah” (Joshua 15:28).

  1. The Meaning of the Name:

The most probable meaning of Beersheba is the “well of seven.” “Seven wells” is improbable on etymological grounds; the numeral should in that case be first. In Genesis 21:31 Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice, “Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them.” Here the name is ascribed to the Hebrew root shabha`, “to swear,” but this same root is connected with the idea of seven, seven victims being offered and to take an oath, meaning “to come under the influence of seven.”

Another account is given (Genesis 26:23-33), where Isaac takes an oath and just afterward, “the same day Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged (dug), and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.”

  1. A Sacred Shrine: Beersheba was a sacred shrine. “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God” Genesis (Genesis 21:33). Theophanies occurred there to Hagar (Genesis 21:17), to Isaac (Genesis 26:24), to Jacob (Genesis 46:2), and to Elijah (1 Kings 19:5). By Amos (Amos 5:5) it is classed with Bethel and Gilgal as one of the rival shrines to the pure worship of Yahweh, and in another place (Amos 8:14) he writes “They shall fall, and never rise up again,” who sware, “As the way (i.e. cult) of Beersheba liveth.” The two unworthy sons of Samuel were Judges in Beersheba (1 Samuel 8:2) and Zibiah, mother of King Jehoash, was born there (2 Kings 12:12 Chronicles 24:1).
  2. Its Position:

Geographically Beersheba marked the southern limit of Judah, though theoretically this extended to the “river of Egypt” (Genesis 15:18)-the modern Wady el`Avish-60 miles farther south. It was the extreme border of the cultivated land. From Dan to Beersheba (2 Samuel 17:11, etc.) or from Beersheba to Dan (1 Chronicles 21:2 2 Chronicles 30:5) were the proverbial expressions, though necessarily altered through the changed conditions in later years to “from Geba to Beer-sheba” (2 Kings 23:8) or “from Beer-sheba to the hill-country of Ephraim” (2 Chronicles 19:4). (Biblehub.com https://biblehub.com/topical/b/beersheba.htm)

Smith’s Bible Dictionary

“Paran, Elparan ” means peace of caverns

Paran, Elparan : a desert or wilderness, bounded on the north by Palestine, on the east by the valley of Arabah, on the south by the desert of Sinai, and on the west by the wilderness of Etham, which separated it from the Gulf of Suez and Egypt. The first notice of Paran is in connection with the invasion of the confederate kings. (Genesis 14:6) The detailed itinerary of the children of Israel in (Numbers 33:1) … does not mention Paran because it was the name of a wide region; but the many stations in Paran are recorded, chs. 17-36. and probably all the eighteen stations were mentioned between Hazeroth and Kadesh were in Paran. Through this very wide wilderness, from pasture to pasture as do modern Arab tribes, the Israelites wandered in irregular lines of march. This region through which the Israelites journeyed so long is now called by the name it has borne for ages —Bedu et-Tih , “the wilderness of wandering.” (“Bible Geography,” Whitney.) “Mount” Paran occurs only in two poetic passages, (33:2); Habb 3:3 It probably denotes the northwestern member of the Sinaitic mountain group which lies adjacent to the Wady Teiran . (It is probably the ridge or series of ridges lying on the northeastern part of the desert of Paran, not far from Kadesh. —ED.) (Christianity.com https://www.christianity.com/bible/dictionary.php?dict=sbd&id=3322)

Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Abounding in foliage, or abounding in caverns, (Genesis 21:21), a desert tract forming the north-eastern division of the peninsula of Sinai, lying between the `Arabah on the east and the wilderness of Shur on the west. It is intersected in a north-western direction by the Wady el-`Arish. It bears the modern name of Badiet et-Tih, i.e., “the desert of the wanderings.” This district, through which the children of Israel wandered, lay three days’ march from Sinai (Numbers 10:12, 33). From Kadesh, in this wilderness, spies (q.v.) were sent to spy the land (13:3, 26). Here, long afterwards, David found refuge from Saul (1 Samuel 25:1, 4).

Paran, Mount

Probably the hilly region or upland wilderness on the north of the desert of Paran forming the southern boundary of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 33:2Habakkuk 3:3).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

PARAN, EL-PARAN

pa’-ran, (pa’ran, ‘el-pa’ran; Pharan):

(1) El-paran (Genesis 14:6) was the point farthest South reached by the kings. Septuagint renders ‘el by terebinthos, and reads, “unto the terebinth of Paran.” The evidence is slender, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that this is the place elsewhere (Deuteronomy 2:8 1 Kings 9:26, etc.) called Elath or Eloth (‘el with feminine termination), a seaport town which gave its name to the Aelanitic Gulf (modern Gulf of `Aqaba), not far from the wilderness of Paran (2).

(2) Many places named in the narrative of the wanderings lay within the Wilderness of Paran (Numbers 10:12Numbers 13:21Numbers 27:14; compare 13:3, 16, etc.). It is identified with the high limestone plateau of Ettih, stretching from the Southwest of the Dead Sea to Sinai along the west side of the Arabah. This wilderness offered hospitality to Ishmael when driven from his father’s tent (Genesis 21:21). Hither also came David when bereaved of Samuel’s protection (1 Samuel 25:1).

(3) Mount Paran (Deuteronomy 33:2 Habakkuk 3:3) may be either Jebel Maqrah, 29 miles South of `Ain Kadis (Kadesh-barnea), and 130 miles North of Sinai (Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, 510); or the higher and more imposing range of mountains West of the Gulf of `Aqaba. This is the more probable if El-paran is rightly identified with Elath.

(4) Some place named Paran would seem to be referred to in Deuteronomy 1:1; but no trace of such a city has yet been found. Paran in 1 Kings 11:18 doubtless refers to the district West of the Arabah.

  1. Ewing (Biblehub.com https://biblehub.com/topical/p/paran.htm)

Now, this raises a serious problem for Muhammadans since their so-called sacred text goes out of its way to confirm the textual veracity and incorruptible of the very Torah, which the Jews and Christians of Muhammad’s day possessed:

O Children of Israel! call to mind the (special) favour which I bestowed upon you, and fulfil your covenant with Me as I fulfil My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me. And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is WITH YOU, and be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs for a small price; and fear Me, and Me alone. And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is). And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practise it) yourselves, and yet ye study the Scripture? Will ye not understand? S. 2:40-44 A. Yusuf Ali

And when there comes to them a Book from God, confirming what is WITH THEM, – although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith, – when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of God is on those without Faith. S. 2:89 Y. Ali

When it is said to them, “Believe in what God Hath sent down,” they say, “We believe in what was sent down to us:” yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is WITH THEM. Say: “Why then have ye slain the prophets of God in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?” S. 2:91 Y. Ali

And when there came to them an apostle from God, confirming what was WITH THEM, a party of the people of the Book threw away the Book of God behind their backs, as if (it had been something) they did not know! S. 2:101 Y. Ali

O ye People of the Book! believe in what We have (now) revealed, confirming what was (already) WITH YOU, before We change the face and fame of some (of you) beyond all recognition, and turn them hindwards, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers, for the decision of God Must be carried out. S. 4:47 Y. Ali

No one could have composed this Quran besides God. This confirms THE EXISTING BOOK (the Bible) and explains itself. There is no doubt that it is from the Lord of the Universe. S. 10:37 (Muhammad Sarwar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/10/st23.htm)

Here is another rendering of the foregoing passage:

“… rather (it is) a verification and confirmation to what IS IN ITS TWO HANDS (walakin tasdeeqa allathee bayna yadayhi) and details to Al-Kitab [the word ‘Qur’an’ means some thing which is read by emitting words. When Allah’s Book is subjected to Qir’atit confirms what is available in the written copies of the scripture already available anywhere in the world, and it also contains details to all the verdicts available in the Book]…” (Dr. Kamal Omar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/10/st48.htm)

And:

Definitely, in their incidents is a lesson for men of understanding. (This Al-Kitâb) is not (a collection of) forged and concocted HadeesRather it is a confirmation to what IS IN ITS BOTH HANDS (i.e., already there [walakin tasdeeqa allathee bayna yadayhi]) and details to all things and Hudah and Rahmah for the nation who Believe. S. 12:111 (Omar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/12/st48.htm)

Note the following translation of the above verse:

“… It (the Qur’an) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of the Allah’s EXISTING BOOKS [the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel) and other Scriptures of Allah]…” Hilali-Khan

There’s more:

And before this, was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy: And this Book confirms (it) in the Arabic tongue; to admonish the unjust, and as Glad Tidings to those who do right. S. 46:12 Y. Ali

They addressed (their nation thus): “O our nation! Verily we, we have listened to the Book, made to descend after Musa, being one that is a confirmation to that what is between its two hands (i.e., what had been already there as Allah’s Scripture). It guides towards the truth and towards the permanent Path. S. 46:30 (Omar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/46/st48.htm)

The Islamic scripture further attests that no one can ever change any of the words of Allah:

And certainly apostles before you were rejected, but they were patient on being rejected and persecuted until Our help came to them; and there is none to change the words of Allah, and certainly there has come to you some information about the apostles. S. 6:34 Shakir

Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou (O Muhammad) of the waverers. Perfected is the Word of thy Lord in truth and justice. There is naught that can change His words. He is the Hearer, the Knower. S. 6:114-115 Pickthall

Theirs are good tidings in the life of the world and in the Hereafter – There is no changing the Words of Allah – that is the Supreme Triumph. S. 10:64 Pickthall

And recite that which hath been revealed unto thee of the Scripture of thy Lord. There is none who can change His words, and thou wilt find no refuge beside Him. S. 18:27 Pickthall

Renowned Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyya’s premiere student noted that a group of scholars Quran appealed to Q. 6:115 to prove that the Torah is incorruptible since it is Allah’s word:

On the other side, another party of hadith and fiqh scholars said: these changes took place during its interpretation and not during the process of its revelation. This is the view OF ABI ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD BIN ISHMAEL AL-BUKHARI who said in his hadith collection:

NO ONE CAN CORRUPT THE TEXT BY REMOVING ANY OF ALLAH’S WORDS FROM HIS BOOKS, but they corrupted it by misinterpreting it.

Al-Razi ALSO AGREES WITH THIS OPINION. In his commentary he said:

There is a difference of opinions regarding this matter among some of the respectable scholars. Some of these scholars said: the manuscript copies of the Torah were distributed everywhere and no one knows the exact number of these copies except Allah. It is impossible to have a conspiracy to change or alter the word of God in all of these copies without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or possible. And when Allah told his messenger (Muhammad) to ask the Jews to bring their Torah and read it concerning the stoning command they were not able to change this command from their copies, that is why they covered up the stoning verse while they were reading it to the prophet. It was then when Abdullah Ibn Salam requested that they remove their hand so that the verse became clear. If they have changed or altered the Torah then this verse would have been one of the important verses to be altered by the Jews.

Also, whenever the prophet would ask them (the Jews) concerning the prophecies about him in the Torah they were not able to remove them either, and they would respond by stating that they are not about him and they are still waiting for the prophet in their Torah.

Abu Dawud narrated in his collection that Ibn Umar said:

A group of Jewish people invited the messenger of Allah to a house. When he came, they asked him: O Abu Qassim, one of our men committed adultery with a woman, what is your judgment against him? So they placed a pillow and asked the messenger of Allah to set on it. Then the messenger of Allah proceeded to say: BRING ME THE TORAH. When they brought it, he removed the pillow from underneath him AND PLACED THE TORAH ON IT and said: I BELIEVE IN YOU AND IN THE ONE WHO REVEALED YOU, then said: bring me one of you who have the most knowledge. So they brought him a young man who told him the story of the stoning.

The scholars said: if the Torah was corrupted HE WOULD NOT HAVE PLACED IT ON THE PILLOW AND HE WOULD NOT HAVE SAID: I believe in you and in the one who revealed you.

This group of scholars also said: Allah said:

“And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly; there is none who can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Q. 6:115)

And the Torah is Allah’s word. (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ighathat Al Lahfan, Volume 2, p. 351; capital emphasis ours)

Pay close attention to the fact that Muhammad is reported to have affirmed the very copy of the Torah, which the Jews handed him, as the uncorrupt revelation of his god, testifying that he believed in its absolute authority without a single word about it’s being corrupted.

Moreover, the reasoning which these Muslim scholars employed to affirm the incorruptibility of the Torah is sound, since both their premises and the conclusion they drew from them are logically valid:

  1. None can change or corrupt the words of Allah.
    2. Books such as the Torah and the Gospel are the words of Allah.
    3. Therefore, none can change or corrupt the text of any of Allah’s Books such as the Torah and the Gospel.

Hence, since the Torah that existed during Muhammad’s lifetime is identical to the Torah we currently possess, this means that the Quran is essentially confirming the Scriptures in our possession. This, in turn, proves that the Islamic tradition, which has Ishmael settling in Mecca and marrying an Arab woman, or that Muhammad was of the physical seed of Ishmael, are purely mythical since these tales contradict the explicit teaching of the Torah.

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