You can’t understand Morocco if you don’t understand Islam and you can’t understand Islam unless you understand that it arose from Abraham, the father of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism…
I’ve just finished reading Abraham: A journey to the heart of three faiths by Bruce Feiler. It was an interesting read as he explores that most mysterious personage, Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Of course, most people know that the three faiths share a founder. What most people don’t know is that what the three faiths say about Abraham differ considerably and that most of it was cobbled together with various agendas long after Abraham’s death.
In fact, little is known of Abraham if one reads the three great books. The Torah, The Bible, and the Quaran. Most of the stories come from other, less authoritative sources. So who was Abraham and why is he so important that he is considered the founder of three religions? Here is what I was able to glean from the text.
The Teachings of Abraham: The Master Course CD Program, 11-CD set
Abraham was a man who early recognized that while some claimed that there were many gods, that there must be one overriding creative force in the Universe. While he is not the first human to have this realization, he is the one who made it stick with plenty of other people. He is a man who heard the voice of God and without questioning why he was being told to do something from that voice, he did it. In other words he was a man who submitted himself to the will of God without knowing where that will would take him. In this case, the will of God ejected him from his father’s house and sent him out into the world with neither destination nor reason. God says go, and he goes.
In Genesis 23, Abraham describes himself as a stranger and a sojourner. He is a man that gives up his family, his possessions, and his country and risks all to answer the call of God. He is a man that recognizes that there are three things he has no control over, his money, his marriage, and his death.
He lives an uneventful life until he is quite an old man married to quite an old woman. By most accounts, a fairly unpleasant old woman named Sarah. He has no children up until he is 75 and his wife is just as old. At this point, God tells him he will have a son. Sarah doesn’t think it is possible so tells him to marry her handmaid, Hagar. Hagar and Abraham conceive a son, Ismael. Then, miraculously, Sarah becomes pregnant and she orders Abraham to send Hagar and Ismael away. God has told Abraham that his son will inherit many lands and father a chosen people. Which son?
Up to this point the stories seem in relative agreement. Jews and Christians say that it is Isaac, the second son. Muslims say it is Ishmael, the first son. I say, it’s obvious that it’s both. Ishmael is the father of the Arabs. Isaac is the father of the Hebrews. The Hebrews later give birth to Jesus. So you can see why the Christians and the Jews favor Isaac.
Abraham drives Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. Then God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son that he loves. Muslims say that this was Ishamel. Jews and Christians say it was Isaac. I say that it doesn’t matter. He is asked to sacrifice that which he loves most for God without reason. He agrees to. God tells him “Okay, not really, just checking if you really have faith.” Obviously he does and in giving in to God’s will he reaps the rewards. For the record, I think it wasn’t God at all that demanded the sacrifice but certainly it was God that told him not to kill his boy.
As a quick aside, the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) said that one should never kill a child, a woman, an old man, or cut down a green tree. So if you hear God telling you to kill your child, it’s probably not God at all. Same goes for cutting down a green tree you eco-terrorists. By the way, I’m sure Jesus would agree. It’s a shame suicide bombers don’t heed the words of the prophet. As I’ve discussed before, they are not Muslims. I leave it to you to determine who they are listening to.
The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A New Edition (Princeton Classic Editions)
So who is Abraham? I like Feiler’s words quite a bit in the closing of his book
…a bridge between humanity and the divine, who demonstrates the example of what it means to be faithful but who also delivers us God’s blessing on earth….(who) believes that his children still crave God. That they need some comfort from something greater than themselves, still hold onto some gleam of humanity, still dream of a moment when they stand alongside one another and pray for their lost father and for the legacy of peace among the nations…he’s not flawless…he’s not a saint…he is himself.