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Abraham

Religion research papers are required and one of the most frequently studied Biblical figures is Abraham. Few people of Christianity realize it but Abraham was also featured in the Koran. Comparing Abraham of the Bible and Abraham of the Koran make for an extremely interesting research paper. Below are a few facts about Abraham from the Biblical perspective and then also how the Koran views Abraham.

Who is Abraham?

Abraham, the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5), was born in Ur, in Mesopotamia.  An exact date of birth is, of course, impossible to ascertain.  Miller and Miller give a date around the 20th century B.C.; the editors of Harper’s Bible Commentary place his life as having been lived between the 20th and 16th centuries .  The date of his death is likewise indeterminate; the Bible says that he lived 175 years.  Abraham’s greatest achievements lay in the spiritual realm. Esposito notes that the Islamic faith attributes to him the building of the Kaba and the status of being the founder of monotheism.  AbrahamAccording to the Bible, he received the word of God and he obeyed that word.  Because he was a good and obedient servant to God, God not only rewarded him temporally but made an everlasting covenant with him that his descendents would have a special relationship to God.  Because Christianity stemmed from Judaism, this makes Abraham the patriarch of the three great monotheisms:

  1. Islam
  2. Judaism
  3. Christianity

Why Study Abraham?

We choose one episode from his life, one much discussed in the religious writings of Muslims, Christians, and Jews, the offering of his son Isaac.  We choose this because it is illustrative of a tenet central to the religious practice of all three faiths: the need for absolute and unquestioning obedience to God’s will.

This episode occurs in both the Koran and the Bible.  Hughes notes that some Muslim scholars believe that the son in question was Ishmael, not Isaac, but that the weight of authority rests behind Isaac as the son.  The Koranic version of the episode appears in Surah 37:97-113.  In this version Abraham announces to Isaac that he has had a dream in which Abraham has required the sacrifice of Isaac; Isaac bids him to obey God. God then revokes the judgement, doing so because Abraham and Isaac have passed the test of obedience.

Abraham of the Bible vs. the Koran

Genesis 22 is the location of this episode in the Bible.  It is quite a bit different from the account given in the Koran on the following points:

  1. In the first place God’s command to Abraham is not delivered during a dream.
  2. More importantly, perhaps, Isaac is not cognizant of the fate that awaits him; when he asks Abraham why they have prepared to make a burnt offering but have not brought the offering itself, a lamb, Abraham does not tell him what is to occur.
  3. The willingness to obey God is, in this version, solely Abraham’s; Isaac does not exhort him to obey God as he does in the Koran. 
  4. Most importantly of all, the reward for obedience in the Bible is a reiteration of the promise, originally made in Genesis 12:1-3, that Abraham will be the founder of a great nation. 

This last is central to the identity of both Christians and Jews that they constitute a “chosen people”.  It gives his version of the story an extra theological weight.

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