Prophets of Allah – Prophet Isaac: Son of Abraham and brother of Ishmael


“And We did raise among every people a Messenger” (16:37)

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam

Isaacas, known as ‭ ‬Ishaq in the Holy Quran, was a Prophet of God and the son of Abrahamas [Ibrahim] and the younger brother of Ishmaelas [Isma‘il]. He was the son of a prophet (Abrahamas), the brother of a prophet (Ishmaelas), the father of a prophet (Jacobas [Ya‘qub]), and the grandfather of a prophet (Josephas [Yusuf]).

Isaacas is considered, by Jews, Christians, and various historians, to be the son who God commanded Abrahamas to sacrifice, not Ishmaelas; however, this is subject to scrutiny and shall be explained in this article.

Glad tidings of Isaacas

The Holy Quran mentions the glad tidings of Prophet Isaacas to his father, Abrahamas, and his mother, Sarahas, on multiple occasions. In Surah Hud, a summary of the incident is as follows:

Two messengers, who were sent to the Lot’sas [Lut] people, visited Prophet Abrahamas to inform him of the news of the punishment that was to befall Lot’sas nation. As Prophet Lotas was subordinate to Abrahamas – just as Ishmaelas and Isaacas were subordinate to Abrahamas and just as Aronas was to Mosesas – it was natural for the messengers to come to Abrahamas to tell him this news. (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 1371)

Commenting on this incident, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states that Abarham’sas wife, Sarahra, upon hearing the news of the destruction that was to befall Lot’sas nation, was saddened as her heart felt for the nation. This pleased God to see her feel for another nation and thus she was given the glad tidings of a child, Isaacas, and, after Isaacas, of a grandson, Jacobas:

وَ امۡرَاَتُهٗ قَآئِمَةٌ فَضَحِكَتۡ فَبَشَّرۡنٰهَا بِاِسۡحٰقَ ۙ وَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِ اِسۡحٰقَ يَعۡقُوۡبَ

“And his wife was standing [by], and she [too] was frightened, whereupon We gave her glad tidings of the birth of Isaac and, after Isaac, of Jacob.” (Surah al-Hud, Ch. 11: V.72)

Covenant with Abrahamas

God, being pleased with the nobility of Abrahamas, established a covenant with him. The Bible records this in Genesis. Alluding to Isaacas, we read:

“And God said, Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Genesis, 17:19)

Then, in the following verse, we read about Ishmaelas:

“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis, 17:20)

God’s covenant with Abrahamas, the father of the Prophets, began initially with Isaacas; after whom came a long line of Prophets and reached its pinnacle with the coming of Mosesas. After Mosesas, came a line of Prophets which ended with Jesusas. Then, according to God’s will, when it was time for the fulfilment of the covenant made alluding to Ishmaelas. Prophethood passed from the House of Israel to that of Ishmael.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, in his book, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran, writes:

“The progeny of Isaacas multiplied exceedingly. From among them arose the prophets Mosesas, Davidas, Ezekielas, Danielas and Jesusas. For 2,000 years they ruled over Canaan. Their hold on it was never really abolished, though for a short time, it became weak. After the 7th century AD, however, the sons of Isaacas, and those who observed the letter of the Law of Mosesas had to withdraw from Canaan.” (Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran, p. 61)

Elaborating on this, the Promised Messiahas writes:

“After the demise of Mosesas, a man of God, Allah the Exalted continued to send Prophets to serve this religious dispensation, so that it would not suffer decline. These Prophets served the Mosaic dispensation. As such, in the fourteenth century after Moses, peace be upon him, Jesus, peace be upon him, whom you refer to as Christ, was sent to support the Mosaic dispensation. Jesusas was the final brick in the Mosaic dispensation. Just as the final brick brings the construction of a house to its end, in the same manner, the Mosaic dispensation was brought to an end with the Messiahas, and God brought this dispensation to its completion. After this, God laid the foundation for a new dispensation which was established through the progeny of Ishmaelas, and was known as the dispensation of Muhammadsa. As is evident from the word Ishmaelas itself, and as God Almighty had intimated through Moses, peace be upon him, a community was destined to be established among the children of Ishmaelas, just like the Mosaic dispensation.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, p. 170)

The Sacrifice

We now move on to the matter of the sacrifice. There exists a disagreement as to who was the sacrificial son. The Quran does not specifically name which of Abrahamas’s two sons God requests as a sacrifice. According to the Ahmadiyya interpretation of the Holy Quran, it was Ishmaelas and according to the Bible and another interpretation of the Holy Quran, it was Isaacas. In the following, it is argued that the view that it was Ishmaelas is by far the more plausible one. (See the article about Prophet Ishmaelas for details about the incident under discussion, published in Al Hakam, 17 February 2023, Issue 257.)

Point 1:

The Holy Quran states:

فَبَشَّرۡنٰهَا بِاِسۡحٰقَ ۙ وَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِ اِسۡحٰقَ يَعۡقُوۡبَ

“We gave her glad tidings of the birth of Isaac and, after Isaac, of Jacob.” (Surah al-Hud, Ch. 11: V.72)

Further, we read in the Bible, as already quoted above:

“And God said, Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Genesis, 17:19)

The verse quoted above gives glad tidings of a son born to Abrahamas, Isaacas, and also a grandson, Jacobas. If Abrahamas was later asked to sacrifice his son – Isaacas in this case, as some claim – would not he have said to God that He had already promised a grandson to be born from him and that he would marry?

“Thus Isaacas, the promised son, was not only to live and marry but also to have a son who was to be called Jacobas. It cannot, therefore, be supposed that God, Who Himself had announced that Isaacas was to live, marry and beget children, should have commanded that the selfsame Isaacas be offered for sacrifice.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 1374)

Similarly, in his book Seal of the Prophets – Volume I, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes:

“Now, from the very start, if the glad tiding of Isaacas along with that of Jacobas was also present, how is it possible for Abrahamas to have agreed to literally slaughter his son Isaacas, when he clearly knew that his own son’s life is meant to last at least until a son is born to him.” (Seal of the Prophets, Volume I, p. 95)

Point 2:

The Bible states:

“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis, 22:2)

The Holy Quran, however, states that it was Ishmaelas whom God commanded to sacrifice, and not Isaacas.

It is known that Prophet Ishmaelas was older than Isaacas. And so, the words used in the Bible, in the passage quoted above, are, “thine only son”. For 13 years, Ishmaelas remained Abraham’sas only son until Isaacas was born. Isaacas did not and could not hold this position.

Point 3:

Further, with the above-mentioned verse of the Bible (Genesis, 22:2), we see that the place where the sacrifice took place was in “Moriah”. The exact location, however, is not specified. It is only mentioned that it was in a mountainous area. Due to unclear information, both Jewish and Christian scholars disagree on the location of Moriah.

After consideration, it appears that Marwah, a mountainous region near Mecca, matches the name and description of “Moriah”. Mecca was the same place Abrahamas was commanded to leave his child Ishmael and wife, Hagarra.

Point 4:

Till today, Muslims have kept the national customs of sacrifice; however, these customs are not found among the Israelites anymore. This very strongly suggests that Prophet Ishmaelas was the son of the Abrahamic sacrifice, not Prophet Isaacas. If it had been Isaacas, then surely the customs and traditions would have been passed down among the Israelites, not the Ishmaelites.

Shedding light on this, we read in the Five Volume Commentary:

“[…] The fact that whereas no trace is to be found in the religious ceremonies of Jews and Christians of the supposed sacrifice of Isaacas by Abrahamas, the Muslims, spiritual descendants of Ishmaelas, commemorate with great fervour his intended sacrifice, by slaughtering every year rams and goats all over the world on the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah. This universal sacrifice of rams and goats by Muslims on a specific day in commemoration of Abraham’sas preparedness to slaughter Ishmaelas, establishes beyond dispute or doubt that it was Ishmaelas whom Abrahamas offered for sacrifice and not Isaacas. In a sense, Abrahamas had already fulfilled his vision by leaving Ishmaelas, then a child, with his mother, Hagarra, in the bleak and barren valley of Mecca, where at that time there was to be found no sign of life, nor even a blade of grass or a drop of water. That brave act, in fact, had symbolised the sacrifice of Ishmaelas.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 2699)

Possessor of knowledge and deep insight

As all prophets are sent into the world, they are equipped with profound knowledge and deep insight. The Holy Quran, referring to Abrahamas, Isaacas, and Jacobas, states:

اُولِي‭ ‬الۡاَيۡدِيۡ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬الۡاَبۡصَارِ

 “[Men] of position and vision.” (Surah Sad, Ch.38: V.46)

Here, powerful vision refers to deep knowledge and far-sightedness. The Holy Quran has, in many places, referred to ‭ ‬اَبۡصَارِ‭  ‬as a sense of knowledge and understanding.

Commenting on this verse and the word absar, in particular, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira states that the difference between a philosopher and a prophet is that a philosopher, upon doing research, can go wrong in his estimation and will then tell people, not to do so and so or else they will be ruined; however, Prophets, who are men of position and wisdom, would not have to resort to such a thing as the knowledge of the faith they receive is from the All-Knowing. (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. 3, p. 496)

From among the progeny of Isaacas came prophets such as Mosesas, Davidas, Ezekielas, Danielas, and Jesusas.

“[…] It is obvious that Abrahamas had two sons, Ishmaelas and Isaacas, Ishmaelas being the elder and Isaacas the younger. God promised Abrahamas that He would multiply and bless his progeny. The promise applies to both Isaacas and Ishmaelas. From the quotations, it also appears that Ishmaelas lived in the wilderness of Paran, that the land of Canaan was given over to the sons of Abrahamas, and that the external sign of the covenant that God made with Abrahamas was the circumcision of all males. All these promises were fulfilled. The progeny of Isaacas multiplied exceedingly. From among them arose the Prophets, Mosesas, Davidas, Ezekielas, Danielas and Jesusas.” (Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud AhmadraMuhammad in The Bible, p. 9)

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