How to deconstruct the false Muslim pretense that Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions?
Introduction: this document will explain an interesting point of view that may dispel many widespread ideas—ideas which are not always supported by in-depth studies on the subject, but rather widespread convictions which aren’t necessarily supported on a Biblical and historical level. Furthermore, this paper offers an example of how even the less-commonly read pages of the Bible, though they may seem boring, contain precious information.
Let’s begin with a few observations
- It has been ascertained that the Jews, through Isaac (Išāq), are the direct descendants of Abraham, from whom the Jewish religion originated (through Moses). The opinion that the Arabs were the descendants of Abraham through Ishmael (Ismā’īl, from whom Mohammed’s religion is derived) is fairly widespread. Following this logic, it can be concluded that Abraham’s God, who revealed himself to Moses, is the same God who revealed himself to Mohammed. This conclusion has led to the false concept that Christians and Muslims share the same God.
- The subject gets even more complicated when people claim that Abraham is both the patriarch of the Arab race and the Jewish race, since these two races are the sources of both religions. The point is that, in the Jewish religion, God is “YHWH—the ‘I am’”, whereas the Islamic name is “Allah”. Stating that Islam belongs to the three monotheistic religions implies that Christians and Muslims share the same God. This affirmation creates a series of consequences, since there would be two divinely-inspired “revelations”, two “paths”, two “Messiahs”, two words of God. However, if it was proven that the Arabs are not the descendants of Ishmael and Abraham, then the support for this myth of Islam being one of the Abrahamic religions would crumble. The misunderstandings would be resolved. Can the Bible help us to deconstruct this diabolical myth? Yes, and that is the objective of this document!
The Scientific Research
In my first book “A Light on Islam” (Edizioni Patmos, 1999), I talked about the teachings regarding the Arabs having never been the direct descendants of Ishmael. In my countless seminars, I have always maintained that many evangelical Christians who have studied the ancient peoples in the Bible have done so by focusing mainly on the history of Israel; however, this is detrimental to the study of the other ancient peoples named in the Bible. It can be confirmed that many people continue to think of the eastern civilizations in terms of the Jews, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians (to name a few examples).
After having consulted important works like the “New Bible Dictionary” (IVP), the “Biblical Dictionary” (Edizioni Cittadella, 1981), “Investigating the Scriptures” (CdB, 2001), “The Concise of Islam” (Houston Smith, 2004) , and well-respected documento on the web, I have ascertained that there have not been adequate studies relevant to the ancient history of the Arab race and the chronologies and geographic locations in that time period, and yet the opinion that “Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions” is nevertheless widespread. However, this is not demonstrated by the Bible; in fact, it shows the exact opposite, as we will soon see. On page 45 of “Investigating the Scriptures”, the researchers mention that “the sons of Joktan live on the Arabian peninsula”. Furthermore, in consulting the “New Bible Dictionary” (b) (IVP), it states that:
“the modern Arabs of southern Arabia affirm that the pure Arabs are the descendants of Joktan”.
Even a respected online Islamic magazine, for example [pg. 7] , reported that the Arab race is directly descended from the children of certain ‘Qahtan’ (or ‘Joktan’, as the Bible calls him) as we will see later. Even though some might not believe in the other things that this Islamic magazine states, there is another important bit of information: the magazine cites the “difference between Joktan’s direct children and the ‘Arabized’ descendants of Ishmael” (that is to say, those who are not directly descended from him).
And yet, the opinion that “Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions” is still rather widespread. As we will soon see, the Bible proves the exact opposite to be true! By closely re-reading Genesis 10:27-30, we learn about the genealogy of the very first Arabs, which dates back to Joktan (son of Eber), their first legitimate patriarch, who was in fact born a few centuries before Abraham and Ishmael. Let’s consider this fact as a tool to help investigate this seemingly-complex subject even further: it’s important to compare the figures in this paper with the information taken directly from the Bible. This will allow us to debunk those commonplace conceptions that have spread so far as to profoundly influence our Biblical ways of thinking in terms of the so called “Arab descendants of Ishmael”; in reality, this subject dates back to when Mohammed claimed of himself (it comments by itself) that:
“the archangel Gabriel revealed to him (1) that he was a descendant of Mudar, who in turn was a (distant) descendant of Ishmael (Biography of the Prophet – by Ibn Ishaq).
The first Muslims based everything on this (presumed!!!) personal revelation in order to wrongfully exploit a credible prophetic ancestry (from Abraham), which they held over the Jews. Mohammed, however, used these credentials in order to lay claim to the right to be recognized by them as “the prophet!!” whom Moses had announced (Sure 7:157 and 61:6). In reality, his Jewish representatives knew that the prophetic line passed exclusively through their patriarch, Isaac. In Genesis 17:20-21, the Lord God speaks to Abraham:
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 2But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”
As we can see, the promise that Ishmael would become a great nation never mentions him being the heir to any prophetic status. If Ishmael couldn’t fulfill the Pact that was sealed in Isaac, that means that Mohammed couldn’t have upheld it either, even though the Muslims consider him to be the direct descendant of Ishmael.
In fact, nowhere in the Bible is it written that the promise would have “also” been fulfilled through Ishmael’s lineage, if not exclusively through the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. This shows us that the Pact that God intended for all of humanity must have come exclusively from the divine initiative, and not from mankind’s unilateral efforts.
By following these passages, we can discover how our point of view regarding the ancient history of the Arabs differs from the historical indications taken from the Bible. For now, let’s return to the descendants of Shem. The history of his descendants, the Semites, is known to us for the substantial impact that their role has played on the Jews and the history of ancient Arabia. I have personally outlined at least five (in my opinion, critically important) characteristics taken from Genesis 10:26-30 (see outline):
- The Ethnological Factor
If we observe the two distinct genealogical lines dating back to Eber’s two sons (Peleg and Joktan), we find that the “Arab tribes” (on the right) are directly descended from their patriarch Joktan whereas, from Peleg’s side of the family tree, Abraham and Isaac come much, much later. With regard to the origins of the Arab tribes, we find in Genesis 10:26-30 that:
“Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.”
(P.S. Sometimes when reading these Biblical names, there must have been at least a few instances of skipping and omitting a few lines.)
2. The Chronological Factor
In the Bible, Abraham’s genealogy can only be found in Genesis 11:17-26, after the genealogy of the first Arabs, the sons of Joktan (which were outlined in chapter 10 of Genesis), and this has certainly been confirmed. Therefore, how can Abraham be considered the father of the very first Arabs when he was, in fact, born 191 years later than them? Not to mention Ishmael, who came about 270 years later Joktan.
3. Geographical Factors
By researching, I have pinpointed the mysterious locations of Mesha and Sephar (which were mentioned in Genesis 10:30). Researchers agree that Mesha was located north of the ancient Arabian Peninsula; as for the ancient city of Sephar, they maintain that this was renamed, becoming the modern Yemeni city of Dāfar (ظفار). This city is near Sana’a, the capital of modern-day Yemen (click here to see the modern city today).
Modern-day Yemen is the location of the ancient cities that were founded by the sons of Joktan: Ophir (verse 29) and Sheba (v. 28). In light of this, the famous queen of Sheba who visited Solomon (1 Kings, 10) was an Arab woman of the Sheba tribe, and was thus a direct descendant of Joktan. She was devoted to the religion of the Sabaeans (from Saba) which, just like the religions of the other southern Arabian peopleos, was based on a polytheistic belief with a supreme god, Attar, who was connected to the rain (as defined by Treccani Encyclopedie). She gave King Solomon 120 of Ophir’s exquisite gold talents (1 Kings 10:10), which she had received from her brothers, the descendants of Ophir (who were, therefore, also the descendants of Joktan). As I was conducting my research, I began to wonder what happened to the ancient city of Sheba. After further research, I concluded that the city of Sheba was renamed “Ma’rib” (the ruins can be seen in the photo) in 650 B.C., and it is located in modern-day Yemen (see clickable map 3).
I found an interesting and precious mosiac map (below) which allows us to confirm that the Arabian Peninsula was labeled in ancient times as Arabians and Joktan. By reading carefully, we see the names of the thirteen cities founded by Joktan’s sons: Hazarmaveth and Almodad (Gen. 10:26), Jobab (v. 29), Obal (v. 28), Ophir (or “Ofir”, v. 29), Sheba (or “Seba”, v. 28), Havilah (v. 29), Abimael (v. 28), Sheleph (or “Shelef”), Diklah (v. 27), Hadoram (v. 27), Jerah (or “Jarah”), and Uzal (v. 27). Some of these cities are spread along the coast the ancient Arabian Peninsula, as shown by the ancient map, which sheds more light on the ancient world as it was known to the Jews of that time period. From Kalimullah’s document that I found on the internet , we can confirm that several of Joktan’s descendants were, in fact, located in modern-day Yemen.
4. Idiomatic factor: Did the direct descendants of Joktan spoke Arabic? Contrary to what one might suppose, scholars agree that in ancient times, the primitive Arabic idiom was outlined over the centuries under the then inﬂuence of the Semitic languages that developed also in the ancient Arabian peninsula: Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic and Phoenician.
.5. Descent of Ishmael: Where did Ishmael’s ancestors live – who appeared first time three centuries later than Joktan’s children? History scholars place Ishmael’s descendants in the northern part of the ancient Arabia, while now, in hindsight, we know that the descendants of Jokatan (progenitors of the Arabs) settled in the south, which, we are reminded, were born about three centuries earlier than Ishmael. To see the ancient map (click here).
When the Koran weighs in
The Koran disavows the legitimate spirituals heirs (the Jews and Christians—the People of the Book) from the house of Abraham, stating that the Muslims are Abraham’s only spiritual heirs—and it does so with conviction! The Koran in fact refuses to recognize Judaism and Christianity as being religions with Abrahamic origins. According to the Islamic narrative, Mohammed wrote in the Koran (3:6-7):
“O People of the Book [Jews and Christians], why do you argue about Abraham, while the Pentateuch and the Gospel did not come until after him? Will you never, therefore, understand the truth? Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian: rather, he was a Muslim and not a polytheist”.
It gets taken for granted that, in order to maintain a politically-correct facade, Westerners claim that Islam is an Abrahamic religion while, on the other hand, the Koran views Islam as being the only genuine Abrahamic religion. Thus, it’s a case of inclusion vs. exclusion. I find this the opposite of politically correct! Naturally, one misinterpretation leads to others, which reduce or debase Judaism and Christianity (this creates the collateral consequence of denouncing our identities and our ideas and values).
People seem to go along with the idea that Islam is the religion of peace, and they favor inter-religious exchanges. But the Koran (12:40) directly accuses Jews and Christians (the People of the Book) of inventing a false religion:
“(O You People of the Book) worship none other than Allah aside from the names that you and your fathers have invented, for which Allah has sent down no authority. In truth, judgment belongs solely to Allah. He has ordered you to worship none other but Him. This is the immutable religion, yet most men ignore it”.
Reaching the conclusion of my research. If we take the time to develop these aspects in order to discover (from a geographical and archaeological point of view) where the first Arab populations were developed, new and profound Biblical/historical implications begin to emerge, which may give us a new understanding of the Holy Scriptures. In short: associating Islam with Judaism and Christianity is a confusing misstep, which debases Judaism and Christianity in favor of Islam, the only real intruder.
I now repropose the same two questions from the beginning of this study, however this time I am applying my conclusions:
1. It is Biblically certain that the Jews are the direct descendants of Abraham through Isaac, from whom the Jewish religion was born; if it were true (as we are always told) that the ancient Arabs were the descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, wouldn’t that mean that Islam, just like Judaism, would receive its spiritual origins through Abraham?
2. The issue gets complicated when, as is widely noted, Abraham is found to be the patriarch of both the Arabs (the race descended from Ishmael) as well as the Jews (the race descended from Isaac). Such confusion! From this Abrahamic concept, these questions have emerged:
Is it either the Jewish or Islamic religion? [The answer is NO]
Are there two divinely-inspired revelations, rather than one? [The answer is NO]
Two paths, rather than just one? [The answer is NO]
Two Messiahs, rather than just one? [The answer is NO]
Two Words of God, rather than just one? [The answer is NO]
Two sources of alternative truths? [The answer is NO]
Two multiple options for reaching God? [The answer is NO]
Two religions from the same God? [The answer is NO]
The God from the Bible isn’t the same god from the Koran? [The answer is NO]
Dear Christian reader, in light of the teachings that you have received so far, the undeniable truth is that Islam is not one of the three Abrahamic religions. Repeating this concept means reiterating or implying that Islam is a religion that is inspired by the same God of Judaism.
Muslims insist upon the right to claim to the prophetic duties, calling themselves the heirs to the great prophet Abraham and proclaiming to be his only spiritual heirs. Through the Koran (3:6; 12:40)
they have supplanted the places of Judaism and Christianity, whereas these latter two actually have rightful Abrahamic origins.
Historically, the Islamic world came about seven centuries after Christ—not because the Muslims submitted to the command of “Lord YHWH—the ‘I am’”, but rather an external god, one who is unknown to the Biblical revelations. Islam does not have Abrahamic origins. The Muslims, even though they claim that Abraham and Ishmael are their forefathers, are at risk of eternal perdition.
Here’s what the Scriptures say (Galatians 4:28-31; Genesis 21:1):
“Now you brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of the promise! But, he who was created according to the flesh persecuted he who was created according to the spirit. It is the same now. But what does the scripture say? Throw out the slave woman and her son, since the son of the slave will never share in the inheritance of the son of the free woman”.
In the Bible, in chapter 3 of the book of Galatians, it is written that the “Sons of Abraham are those who join the faith in Jesus” (Sons of God, the Lord and Savior).
We Christians must reach out to the Muslims, love them as our neighbors, and therefore evangelize them with more determination, obeying the words of Matthew 28:18, left to us by Jesus, our Lord! We know from the Bible that the Lord God, by the grace bestowed upon Abraham, signed and agreed to His Old Covenant in Isaac even for foreigners, or rather “those uncircumcized in the heart and flesh” who would believe in Jesus (New Covennat), including our Muslim friends, Gentiles like everybody..
Even Christians have taken this as an example of the Abrahamic faith. In fact, in blessing it, the Lord has made it become our reference point for all future generations, in every time and place on the Earth. The Messiah, Yeshua (“YHWH saves”), will descend from the progenies of Isaac and Jacob.
An invocation: Islam will be one of the greatest challenges for Christians in the upcoming years. Announcing the Truth with love is a dutiful thing, since the Truth with Christ’s presence has illuminated our hearts and given us freedom. The happiness that we feel is due to the freedom we feel, since the truth truly sets us free. Reaching our friends and neighbors with Christ’s love.
Francesco Maggio (Intercultural evangelist, docent on Islamic religion, author)
Ministry Islamecom (© All rights reserved – 2017)
Founder Islamecom Francesco Maggio
Teacher Bible School, Researcher.
Author: Light on Islam (tr. Italian, German, French, English, Albanian; Spanish, Dutch)
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