Abraham, Isaac & Ishmael: The Judeo-Christian-Islamic Tradition

January 7, 2011 at 3:46 am Leave a comment

Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother, from Gust...

Image via Wikipedia

Oh, yes. We in the West are used to seeing Judeo and Christian thrown into the same sentence but rarely is it mixed with the word Islamic. And yet we all worship the same God. There are a lot of theological differences, but he’s still the same old God he used to be. All three religions can thank Father Abraham, as can the Ba’hai faith. But perhaps that’s best left to another post.

I remember when I was a child, in Sunday School, singing, “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you. So, let’s all thank the Lord.” There was a little dance that went along, involving putting limbs into the center of a circle that you formed with your friends. It was like Bible Hokey Pokey.

When I was a kid the way Muslims were explained to me was that the Muslims were the descendants of Abraham through his son Ishmael. I was told that the Muslims were a little angry about being labeled bastards, along with losing their birthright and being thrown out into the desert, and who wouldn’t be? And I was told that, along with the pesky problem of Israel being returned to the Jews and taken away from the Palestinians, this was what explained why Muslims didn’t like Jews. But, you know, God promised that land to the Jews, and the Palestinians didn’t even care enough to form their own country, so…For reals. I wouldn’t make this up.

The truth, of course, is that there’s a rumor but no proof that the Arabian people are descended from Ishmael. However, the Arabs kept no written genealogy, and the Qu’ran claims no such thing. The Qu’ran states that Ishmael was the son that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice, not Isaac. It also reveres Ishmael as a prophet. Not all Muslims are Arab, and not all Arabs are Muslim. The Palestinians (who are neither all Muslim nor all Arabic) were displaced from their homes when the Jews were given Israel, and there are more political reasons for why this came about than there are religious ones, no matter how you may feel about Zionism.

I don’t recall ever feeling like Muslims didn’t like Christians. My mother had a good girlfriend when she was attending nursing school who was a Muslim woman. She was from an African country. Around that same time I befriended a boy from Iran who lived with his uncle, an Iranian Muslim, and his aunt by marriage, an American white woman who converted to Islam for the sake of her husband. They were our neighbors in the apartments earmarked for married student housing.

My friend’s name was Mohammed. He wasn’t actually a Muslim, and since he was from Iran, he wasn’t an Arab, either. He wasn’t much of anything at all; I guess you could call him an agnostic. He just didn’t have much of an opinion on the matter one way or the other, except that he did used to tell me all the time, “Don’t marry an Iranian man.” I guess he had seen Not Without My Daughter one time too many.

Mohammed and I rode the school bus together, and the town where I went to high school and college was very conservative and predominantly Christian. You would think this would make them be welcoming and kind to others who were different from themselves, and some of the students were like this. Some of the finest Christian men and women I ever met in my life I met in high school. Others, however, were not so kind. Mo, as he liked to be called (which always made me think of The Three Stooges) used to get teased something fierce for the way he pronounced Iran.

We lived in Oklahoma, and this was in the mid to late 80s. According to Oklahomans in the mid to late 80s the correct pronunciation of Iran was Eye-ran, as in, I ran to catch the football. According to Mo, it was pronounced Ee-ron, with the emphasis firmly on the first syllable, but then he was only born there and lived the first 15 or so years of his life there, so what the hell would he know?

One day I got so tired of this collective ignorance that I stood up and shouted something to the effect that maybe, just maybe he might know how to pronounce Iran correctly since he was FROM THERE. I may have thrown in the word dips*^t, afterward. It was 23 or 24 years ago now. I honestly don’t remember.

Recently there has been a rash of stories in the news about how Muslims are striking out against Christians with violence. The biggest is the story of the recent attacks against the Coptic Christians in Egypt. If you’re unaware of what happened, you can Google it.  I see no need to repeat the story here. I wonder if as many people have read the story of the Muslims who participated in the Christmas mass with Egyptian Christians, in a sign of solidarity. I wonder if as many people read about the Muslims who were prepared to offer their bodies as human shields to prevent the Christians from coming to harm as they worshipped. I’m guessing that didn’t happen.

I got this link from Facebook, from a Facebook friend who’s actually a Wiccan. If you were looking for something happy and inspring, look no more.



Entry filed under: Chrisitanity, Current Events, Ethics, Faith, History, Media, Relationships, Social Commentary, Spirituality. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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