Responses to Akbarally Meherally's site

Abraham and the Child of Sacrifice Revisited - Again & Yet Again

Meherelly adds one final section to his alleged rebuttal of my article. We thank God that this is the last of his series of responses because Akbarally again, as we shall see, has failed to rebut any one of my points. Let us proceed to his alleged refutation:


What to believe and what not to believe?

Sam Shamoun writes (the italics are his, the color scheme is mine):

Finally, Tabari himself:

"As for the above-mentioned proof from the Quran that it really was Isaac, it is God's word which informs us about the prayer of His friend Abraham when he left his people to migrate to Syria with Sarah.


  • It is surprising that Sam does not quote the actual passage of the Quran nor does he indicate which verse(s) of Quran has the "proof from the Quran" that Tabari is alleged to have admitted.
  • Response:

    Why would I need to do provide a citation for what Tabari claimed to be evidence within the Quran that pointed to Isaac as the child of sacrifice? I am simply reporting Tabari's words as found in his book. Yet, had you read Tabari carefully, you would see that his proof was implicitly stated within his very own citation:

    "As for the above-mentioned proof from the Quran that it really was Isaac, IT IS GOD'S WORD WHICH INFORMS US ABOUT THE PRAYER OF HIS FRIEND ABRAHAM WHEN HE LEFT HIS PEOPLE TO MIGRATE TO SYRIA WITH SARAH. Abraham prayed, `I am going to my Lord who will guide me. My Lord! Grant me a righteous child.' THIS WAS BEFORE HE KNEW HAGAR, WHO WAS TO BE THE MOTHER OF ISHMAEL. After mentioning this prayer, God goes on to describe the prayer and mentions that he foretold to Abraham that he would have a gentle son. God also mentions Abraham's vision of himself sacrificing that son when he was old enough to walk with him. The Book does not mention any tidings of a male child given to Abraham except in the instance where it refers to Isaac, in which God said, 'And his wife, standing by laughed when we gave her tidings of Isaac, and after Isaac, Jacob', and 'Then he became fearful of them'. They said. 'Fear not!' and gave him tidings of a wise son. Then his wife approached, moaning, and smote her face, and cried, 'A barren old woman'. Thus, wherever the Quran mentions God giving tidings of the birth of a son to Abraham, it refers to Sarah (and thus to Isaac) and the same must be true of God's words 'So we gave him tidings of a gentle son', as it is true of all such references in the Quran." (Ibid. p. 89).

    Tabari alludes to S. 37:99-100 as proof that the promised child that was to be given to Abraham was made even before Hagar was in the picture. Hence, this promise could only apply to both Abraham and his wife Sarah.

  • In absence of the specific passage from the Quran the second part of the sentence which reads "that it really was Isaac" could be a reference by Tabari to the same passage which Sam had quoted earlier in his article. To refresh the readers' memory, that passage from the Quran was concerning the Good News of Isaac's birth and Sam had INJECTED "(the sacrifice)" to mislead his readers, which Sam has now admitted it was clearly a mistake on his part.
  • Response:

    Actually, I did not mislead my readers but mistakenly inserted the wrong word. Yet, one can still find my parenthetical comments but this time with a point of clarification:

    "This (i.e. the child promised to Abraham and later commanded to be sacrificed) was in the fertile land of Syria and Palestine. The boy thus born, was, according to Muslim tradition (which however is not unanimous on this point), the first-born son of Abraham, viz Ishmael..." (1: p. 1204, f. 4096).

    Hence, the phrase used by Ali, "this", was referring to God's promise of a child to be given to Abraham; the very same child which would later be commanded to be sacrificed.

  • If the Muslim scholars like Tabari had the proof from the Quran that it really was Isaac, who was offered for Sacrifice (which Sam wants his readers to understand), then Sam should in all fairness and honesty withdraw his under mentioned self-contradictory statement and the erroneous claim that is tagged to it.

    The differing views held amongst the Muslims as to the identity of the child only proves that the Bible is truly authoritative and reliable since what the Quran does not clarify, the Bible corrects and addresses, leaving no guesswork for scholars to work through.

  • Response:

    Again, in which way does my statement contradict Tabari? Had I said THAT TABARI SAID THAT THE QURAN WAS AMBIGUOUS OVER THESE ISSUES then it would be a contradiction. The fact that Tabari could disagree with others over this issue PROVES MY POINT THAT THE QURAN IS VAGUE SINCE HAD IT BEEN CLEAR THEN WE WOULD NOT FIND TABARI AND OTHER MUSLIMS ARGUING WITH EACH OTHER OVER THIS VERY POINT.

    Hence, my original statement still stands, namely that the Holy Bible is vastly superior to the Quran since on issues which the latter fails to mention or clarify the former magnificently addresses leaving no room for scholars to disagree over.


    Sam had better get down from the fence and decide:


    Actually, we highly recommend that Akbarally read what is actually stated and stop attacking a straw man and refrain from ad hominem slurs since that is all his responses really amount to, having little substance behind them.


    Are there proofs from the Quran that it really was Isaac? Or, The Quran does not clarify, who was offered for Sacrifice?


    Again, it depends on which historian you choose to agree with. If you agree with Tabari, then the Quran conclusively proves that it was Isaac. But if you are looking at it objectively, then the best you can say is that the Quran fails to clarify this issue, leading prominent Muslims to disagree over the identity of the child. Just in case Akbarally tries to twist my words, for the record, MY PERSONAL VIEW IS THAT THE QURAN IS VAGUE AND DOES NOT CONCLUSIVELY PROVE WHETHER IT WAS ISAAC OR ISHMAEL. This is why I stick with God's inspired Word, the Holy Bible. It leaves no guesswork on this important issue for me to struggle with.


    "INJECTIONS" to Yusuf Ali's Commentary...

    Sam Shamoun quotes Abdullah Yusuf Ali's commentary # 4099:

    "At what stage in Abraham's history did this occur? ... It was obviously after his arrival in the Land of Canaan and after Ishmael had given up years of discretion. Was it before or after the building of the Kabah ...? There are no data on which this question can be answered. But we may suppose it was before that event, and that event may itself have been commemorative."

    Note: After the first question mark above there is an answer to the question by Yusuf Ali. It reads: See n. 2725 to xxi. 69. Similarly, before the second question mark Yusuf Ali has mentioned (ii 127). I do not know why these are expunged!


    Maybe the reason for it being expunged was because it simply had no relevance to the point I was making? Is that too hard for Akbarally to figure out? Let us read the citation in question to see if it makes a difference to the point I was trying to make:

    And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower.

    Since this passage refers to the building of the Kaba, not where the sacrifice supposedly took place, in what way is this relevant to my point? Perhaps Mr. Meherelly can explain.

    In relation to Ali's footnote 2725, I quote it here at length in order to demonstrate that nothing stated therein solves the problem at hand. In fact, it complicates matters more!:

    "... Can we form any idea of the place he (Abraham) passed through the furnace, and the stage in his career at which this happened? He was born in Ur of the Chaldees, a place on the lower reaches of the Euphrates, not a hundred miles from the Persian Gulf. This was the cradle, or one of the cradles, of human civilisation. Astronomy was studied here in very ancient times, and the worship of the sun, moon and stars was the prevailing form of religion. Abraham revolted against this quite early in life, and his argument is referred to in vi. 74-82. They also had idols in their temples, probably idols representing heavenly bodies and celestial winged creatures. He was still a youth (xxi. 60) when he broke the idols. This was stage No. 2. After this he was marked down as a rebel and persecuted. PERHAPS some years passed before the incident of his being thrown into the Fire (xxi. 68-69) took place, OR THE INCIDENT MAY BE ONLY ALLEGORICAL. Traditionally the Fire incident is referred to a king called NIMRUD, about whom see n. 1565 to xi. 69. IF Nimrud's capital was in Assyria, near Ninevah (site near modern Mosul), WE MAY SUPPOSE either that the king's rule extended over the whole of Mesoptamia, or that Abraham wandered north through Babylonia to Assyria. Various stratagems were devised to get rid of him (xxi. 70), but he was saved by the mercy of God. The final break came when he WAS PROBABLY a man of mature age and could speak to his father with some authority. This incident is referred to in xix. 41-48. He now left his ancestral lands and avoiding Syrian desert, came to the fertile lands of Aram OR Syria, and so south to Canaan, when the incident of xi. 69-76 and the adventure of his nephew Lut took place. It is some years after this WE MAY SUPPOSE HE BUILT THE KA'BA WITH ISMAIL (ii. 124-29), and his prayer in xiv. 35-41 MAY BE referred to the same time. His visit to Egypt (Gen. xii. 10), is not referred to in the Qur-an."

    The terms, "perhaps", "if", "we may suppose", "may be" should be a clear indication of Ali's inability to precisely pinpoint any of the major events of Abraham's life. When we look up Ali's footnote on Nimrud's identity, the problem gets even worse!:

    "...Can we localize Nimrud? IF LOCAL TRADITION CAN BE RELIED UPON, the king MUST have ruled over the tract which includes the modern Nimrud, on the Tigris, about twenty miles south of Mosul. This is the site of the Assyrian ruins of great interest, but the rise of Assyria as an empire was of course much later than the time of Abraham. The Assyrian city Kalakh (Calah), and archaeological excavations carried out there have yielded valuable results, which are however irrelevant for our Commentary." (Ali, p. 533, f. 1565)

    Hence, Ali can only opt for traditions that are not 100% certain. In fact, the identity of Nimrud as the king who tossed Abraham into the fire leaves more problems since Nimrud preceded Abraham by hundreds of years! If this is the evidence that Akbarally is appealing to then he is left with more problems than solutions.


    Sam's comment to the commentary:

    As Ali states, there is no data, especially from the pre-Islamic period or archaeology, which confirms the fact that either Abraham or Ishmael were ever in Mecca, let alone support the notion that Abraham instituted the rites of the pilgrimage.

    My Comments:

    Yusuf Ali has simply stated, there is no data to answer the question; if the sacrifice had taken place before or after the building of the Kabah. As usual Sam has INJECTED his own agenda and written:

    "As Ali states, there is no data... that either Abraham or Ishmael were ever in Mecca..."


    This is a constant problem I find with Akbarally, a willful neglect of the context in which a statement is made. Had Akbarally honestly cited the context in which I made the inference from Ali's footnote he would have seen that there is no problem with my statement:


    Once the preceding paragraph is quoted, one can clearly see why I appealed to Yusuf Ali. Ali affirms the point I was making, namely that the Quran does not give us the site where the sacrifice was to take place, and hence the Holy Bible is a superior revelation. I went on from there to use Ali's acknowledgment of this fact to make the inference that evidence is also lacking for the Muslim belief that Abraham and Ishmael were ever in Arabia. After all, if no evidence exists for the place where the sacrifice was to take place then by the same token there would be no evidence supporting that Abraham or Ishmael had ever been in Mecca. This deduction would have been apparent to those reading my citations within the given context:

    "Yusef Ali notes:

    "Where did this vision occur? The Muslim view is that it was in or near Mecca. Some would identify it with the Valley of Mina, six miles north of Mecca, where a commemoration sacrifice is annually celebrated as a rite of the Hajj on the tenth of Zul-Hijja, the Id of sacrifice, in memory of this sacrifice of Abraham and Ishmael ...; Others say that the original place of sacrifice was near the hill of Marwa ...; which is associated with the infancy of Ishmael."

    "At what stage in Abraham's history did this occur? ... It was obviously after his arrival in them Land of Canaan and after Ishmael had given up years of discretion. Was it before or after the building of the Kabah ...? There are no data on which this question can be answered. But we may suppose it was before that event, and that event may itself have been commemorative." (1: p. 1204, footnotes 4098, 4099).

    As Ali states, there is no data, especially from the pre-Islamic period or archaeology, which confirms the fact that either Abraham or Ishmael were ever in Mecca, LET ALONE SUPPORT THE NOTION THAT ABRAHAM INSTITUTED THE RITES OF THE PILGRIMMAGE. The late Egyptian Professor, Dr. Taha Husayn, considered one of the foremost authorities on Arabic literature, acknowledges this when commenting on the story of Abraham and Ishmael building the Kabah:

    "The case for this episode is very obvious because it is of recent date and came into vogue just before the rise of Islam. Islam exploited it for religious reasons." (quoted in Mizan al-Islam by Anwar al-Jundi, p. 170). [italics ours, quoted as found in Behind the Veil, (4: p. 184).]

    Noted Christian Apologist, John Gilchrist states:

    "Secular history knows of only one form of pre-Islamic veneration of the Ka'aba and that is the Idolatry of the pagan Arabs. There is no corroborative evidence whatsoever for the Qur'an's claim that the Ka'aba was initially a house of monotheistic worship. Instead there certainly is evidence as far back as history can trace the origins and worship of the Ka'aba that it was thoroughly pagan and idolatrous in content and emphasis ... the Ka'aba was purely a shrine of thriving pagan idolatry." (6: p. 16).

    Therefore, it is purely wishful thinking for Muslims to use the rites of the Hajj as proof that Abraham offered up Ishmael at Mecca near the Kabah, since pre-Islamic history indicates that these rites were nothing more than pagan customs adopted by Muhammad into Islam. Further, as was noted, Islamic scholarship strongly disagrees and much confusion still exists over the identity of the son, with some arguing for Isaac and others for Ishmael.


    Hopefully, this clarifies things for Akbarally.


    Better Substantiate The Claims Or Withdraw...

    Sam writes:

    Further, as was noted, Islamic scholarship strongly disagrees and much confusion still exists over the identity of the son, with some arguing for Isaac and others for Ishmael.

    Sam wrote in his rebuttal:

    Akbarally attempts to question my integrity hoping that others will not take my article seriously.

    Sam, you have given me enough reasons to raise that same question over and over again.


    If anything it is you who have provided evidence for carelessness in citing your sources and failing to read my article within context. In fact, we are still waiting for your acknowledgment that you willfully misquoted Badawi in your article, something you are quite aware of since you have now dropped the misquotation from your paper. Will you be honest enough and respect the integrity of your readers by admitting to them you made a mistake, whether intentional or not? Or should we now assume that your silence affirms that you were willfully being deceptive, something you have tried to accuse me of but have thus far failed to prove?


    I now anxiously look forward to your providing the documented written evidences to substantiate your claim that there is a strong disagreement among the Islamic scholars of the present era, as to who was offered for sacrifice. And, the Islamic Ummah and/or the Scholars are still confused on this issue.


    There is actually no need for me to present many since one will suffice:

    "THE QUR'AN DID NOT MENTION THE NAME OF THE SACRIFICIAL SON, AND HENCE MUSLIM HISTORIANS DISAGREE IN THIS REGARD." (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad [North American Trust Publications, USA. 1976], p. 25)


    Since you have mentioned Yusuf Ali's commentaries in your article I would earnestly suggest to you and also to the readers, to please read Yusuf Ali's translation of verses 19:54-55 and his Commentaries Nos. 2506 and 2507.


    These citations prove nothing more than Ali's presuppositions. Let me quote his comments and demonstrate:

    Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma'il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was an apostle (and) a prophet. He used to enjoin on his people Prayer and Charity, and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord. S. 19:54-55

    Here are the relevant footnotes in order:

    "... Isma'il was Zabihullah, i.e., the chosen sacrifice of God in Muslim tradition. When Abraham told him of the sacrifice, he voluntarily offered himself for it, and never flinched from his promise, until the sacrifice was redeemed by the substitution of a ram under God's commands. He was the fountain-head of the Arabian Ummat, and in his posterity came the Apostle of God. The Ummat and the Book of Islam reflect back the apostlesship of Isma'il."

    "... An acceptable sacrifice: see last note."

    Here, Ali assumes that the phrase in 19:55, "most acceptable in the sight of his Lord" refers back to Ishmael's willingness to sacrifice himself in obedience to God's command. The only problem is that the phrase in and of itself need not prove that Ishmael offered himself as a sacrifice, but rather that Ishmael's conduct and walk was pleasing to God. This is borne out by the following passages where the same word is used for others:

    Those who do wish for the (things of) the Hereafter, and strive therefor with all due striving, and have Faith,- they are the ones whose striving is acceptable (to God). S. 17:19

    "(One that) will (truly) represent me, and represent the posterity of Jacob; and make him, O my Lord! one with whom Thou art well-pleased!" S. 19:6

    On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (God) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him. S. 20:109

    Furthermore, I never claimed that Ali believed that Ishmael was not the victim of God. Rather, I cited Ali to prove that Muslim scholars were not unanimous over this issue:

    "This (the announcement of a son to be given to Abraham who was later commanded to be sacrificed) was in the fertile land of Syria and Palestine. The boy thus born, was, ACCORDING TO MUSLIM TRADITION (WHICH HOWEVER IS NOT UNANIMOUS ON THIS POINT), the first-born son of Abraham, viz Ishmael..." (Ali, p. 1204, f. 4096).

    This basically affirms that in footnote 2506 either Ali was making a hasty generalization about Muslim tradition agreeing that Ishmael was the chosen sacrifice, or contradicted himself since in one place he states that Muslim tradition was not unanimous on this point. Either way, nothing Ali claims in his footnotes solves the problem for Akbarally.

    In conclusion, we sincerely hope and pray that Akbarally will carefully ponder over these issues and come to embrace the Holy Bible as the only divinely inspired Word of God and receive Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

    Sam Shamoun

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