Responses to Akbarally Meherally's site

Here is Meherally's latest, and hopefully last, response that was posted on Nov. 12. Let us see what he now has to say:



Earlier in my rebuttal to Sam Shamoun, this is what I wrote:

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.

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.

To the above, Sam responded as under:


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)

My response to the above is:

SURPRISINGLY it does not sound unrealistic to Sam Shamoun that ONE solitary evidence does NOT make up for the "Islamic scholarship". Sam writes "one will suffice" but fails to justify or give the reasons thereof.


Of course, one citation will not be sufficient had I said that there were many Islamic scholars of the present era that disagree over the identity of the child of sacrifice. But since I didn't say this you again attack a straw man. Let us see what I actually wrote and how you have again twisted my words to mean other than what was intended:

"Yet, interestingly, Akbarally fails to comment at all on the fact that Muslims themselves disagreed, and some continue to disagree, over the issue of whether Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Ishmael or Isaac."*

When this is read in conjunction with the following, we can see what my point really was:

"The consensus of modern Islamic scholarship has tried to dogmatically assert that the Quran conclusively teaches that Ishmael was indeed the one that was to be sacrificed. Hence, to these Muslim scholars Isaac is not even a consideration as far as the Quran is concerned."

"…Yet, this ignores the fact that the earliest Muslim authorities were divided over this issue, not agreeing whether it was Isaac or Ishmael."

Hence, my citation of Haykal was to demonstrate that there are some Muslims of today who acknowledge that there is a disagreement over whether the child commanded to be sacrificed was Isaac and Ishmael. This disagreement stems from the fact that the Quran is vague and due to its lack of clarity, Muslims of the past were not unanimous over this issue. This is something that both Haykal and Ali, Muslims of the present era, admit:

"This (i.e. the promised made to Abraham of a child who eventually was the one 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, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1204, f. 4096).

Notice that Ali can concede the fact that Muslim tradition IS not unanimous over this issue, precisely the point I was making.


  • The cited text by Sam is from the English translation of Late Dr. Haykal's book in Arabic. The translation was published in 1976. BUT, Dr. Haykal's original work was published in the early 1930's, when most of the readers were not yet born. Hence, this isolated observation of the 1930's does not qualify as an opinion of the Islamic scholarship of the present era.
  • Response:

    Does this change the fact that there are (were) modern Muslim writers that openly admit the point I was making? Does the fact that Haykal's original writing of 1930 negate him from being a modern Muslim writer in contrast to Tabari and others who wrote centuries ago? Your point is? Furthermore, what era does Haykal represent if not this present era?


  • The above quote is the LAST SENTENCE of a paragraph. The OPENING SENTENCE from that same paragraph reads: "Historians of this period disagree on the matter of Ibrahim's sacrifice of Isma'il." If one keeps reading further the author has quoted from a book written much earlier. Hence, "this period" could probably mean a period much earlier than his own period.
  • Response:

    Again, what does this have to do with the fact that a recent Muslim writer admits that Muslim tradition is not unanimous over this issue? My focus was on what Haykal had to say, not on what period he was referring to. So Meherally again chases after a straw man.

    And do notice that Meherally concedes the fact that there is a probability that Haykal was speaking of writers stemming from a different time period, which means that it is also probable that he was also referring to Muslims living during his time that were not unanimous over this issue. Hence, my argument still stands.


    4. THIS IS INTERESTING... Quoting from at-Tabari's work Sam wrote:

    According to Yunus - Ibn Wahb - Yunus - Ibn Shihab - 'Amr b. Abi Sufyan b. Usayd b. Jariyah al-Thaqafi: Ka'b said to Abu Hurayrah, "Should I tell you about Isaac, the son of the prophet Abraham? Abu Hurayrah said, "Certainly." So Ka'b gave the following account:

    "When Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac, Satan said 'By God! If I cannot deceive the people of Abraham with this, I shall never be able to do it.' So when Abraham went out with Isaac to sacrifice him, Satan visited Abraham's wife, Sarah, in the shape of a man whom Abraham's people knew, and asked her, 'Where is Abraham going so early with Isaac?' She said, 'He went off early on some errand.' Satan said, 'No, by God! That is not the reason he left so early.' Sarah asked, 'Then what is the reason?' He said, 'He took him out early to sacrifice him.'" (the narration continues as published earlier in this article).

    Here is a quote from Dr. Haykal's book. It appears on the same page number 25 from which Sam has quoted the LAST SENTENCE. The sub-title given by the author reads; The Historians' Version.

    "Satan took the guise of a man, came to Isma'il's mother and said: "Do you know where Ibrahim is taking your son?" She answered: "Yes they both went to collect some wood." Satan said: "By God, he did not take him except to sacrifice him." (the narration continues identifying Isma'il as the one who accompanied Ibrahim).

    Conclusion: Such enigmatic narrations have no bearing upon the Realities that are to be found in the Revealed Scriptures.


    Had Meherally read what I said carefully, he would have realized that I indicated that Tabari acknowledges that there were two positions over this issue. Had Meherally also read Tabari's original work, as I suggest he do, he would have found that Tabari also records this story on Satan mentioning Ismail as opposed to Isaac. Hence, Meherally mentions nothing new but reinforces my point that Muslims were not unanimous over this issue, leading scholars to disagree.


  • Here is The Truth from Dr. Haykal's book that should certainly act as the "Last Straw". Within the same paragraph from which Sam has quoted the text we find the following. Probably, Sam would not like his readers to EXAMINE the following as coming from Dr. Haykal's own work:
  • "In his book Qisas al Anbiya', Shaykh 'Abd al Wahab al Najjar concluded that the sacrificial son was Ismai'l. His evidence was drawn from the Qur'an itself where the sacrificial son is described as being Ibrahim's unique son, which could only be Ismai'l, and only as long as Ishaq was not yet born."


    Is this supposed to be proof that Ishmael was the child as opposed to Isaac? Did I not say that there were conflicting traditions over whether the child was Isaac or Ishmael? Your citation only adds to the confusion. It does nothing to help clarify it.


  • Since the above conclusion is drawn from the Qur'an itself, one can say it with confidence that any narration or conclusion drawn by a Muslim scholar that does not concur and disputes the above cited conclusion, then it cannot be considered and should not regarded as the "Islamic Point Of View".
  • Response:

    Actually, since the Quran is vague and does not specify by name which child was to be sacrificed, any Muslim scholar that claims to know for certain who that child was is going beyond what is written. In fact, the oldest Muslim collection of traditions does not mention the son by name:

    Narrated Kuraib:

    Ibn 'Abbas said, "The Prophet slept till he snored and then prayed (or probably lay till his breath sounds were heard and then got up and prayed)." Ibn 'Abbas added: "I stayed overnight in the house of my aunt, Maimuna, the Prophet slept for a part of the night, (See Fateh-al-Bari page 249, Vol. 1), and late in the night, he got up and performed ablution from a hanging water skin, a light (perfect) ablution and stood up for the prayer. I, too, performed a similar ablution, then I went and stood on his left. He drew me to his right and prayed as much as Allah wished, and again lay and slept till his breath sounds were heard. Later on the Mua'dhdhin (callmaker for the prayer) came to him and informed him that it was time for Prayer. The Prophet went with him for the prayer without performing a new ablution." (Sufyan said to 'Amr that some people said, "The eyes of Allah's Apostle sleep but his heart does not sleep." 'Amr replied, "I heard 'Ubaid bin 'Umar saying that the dreams of Prophets wer e Divine Inspiration, and then he recited the verse: 'I (Abraham) see in a dream, (O MY SON) that I offer you in sacrifice (to Allah)." (37.102) (See Hadith No. 183). (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 140)

    In fact, two additional hadiths make it highly improbable for Ishmael to be the one commanded to be sacrificed:

    Narrated Ibn Abbas:

    The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque.

    During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:

    'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).

    When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."

    The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."

    The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it.

    They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

    After Ishmael's mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael's marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael's wife about him, she replied, 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, 'We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,' complaining to him. He said, 'When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).' When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, 'Has anyone visited you?' She replied, 'Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.' On that Ishmael said, 'Did he advise you anything?' She replied, 'Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the thre shold of your gate.' Ishmael said, 'It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.' So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e. Jurhum).

    Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael's wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said, 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Abraham asked her, 'How are you getting on?' asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied, 'We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).' Then she thanked Allah' Abraham said, 'What kind of food do you eat?' She said. 'Meat.' He said, 'What do you drink?' She said, 'Water." He said, "O Allah! Bless their meat and water." The Prophet added, "At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it." The Prophet added, "If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca." The Prophet added," Then Abraham said Ishmael's wife, "When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.'

    When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife, 'Did anyone call on you?' She replied, 'Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,' so she praised him and added. 'He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition' Ishmael asked her, 'Did he give you any piece of advice?' She said, 'Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.' On that Ishmael said, 'It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.'

    Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished, and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near Zamzam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father). Abraham said, 'O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.' Ishmael said, 'Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.' Abraham asked, 'Will you help me?' Ishmael said, 'I will help you.' Abraham said, Allah has ordered me to build a house here,' pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it." The Prophet added, "Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka'ba). Ishmael brought the stones and Abraham was building, and when the walls became high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham who stood over it and carried on building, while Ishmael was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, 'O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.' The Prophet added, "Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka'ba saying: O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (2.127). (Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583)

    Narrated Ibn Abbas:

    When Abraham had differences with his wife), (because of her jealousy of Hajar, Ishmael's mother), he took Ishmael and his mother and went away. They had a water-skin with them containing some water, Ishmael's mother used to drink water from the water-skin so that her milk would increase for her child. When Abraham reached Mecca, he made her sit under a tree and afterwards returned home. Ishmael's mother followed him, and when they reached Kada', she called him from behind, 'O Abraham! To whom are you leaving us?' He replied, '(I am leaving you) to Allah's (Care).' She said, 'I am satisfied to be with Allah.' She returned to her place and started drinking water from the water-skin, and her milk increased for her child. When the water had all been used up, she said to herself, 'I'd better go and look so that I may see somebody.' She ascended the Safa mountain and looked, hoping to see somebody, but in vain. When she came down to the valley, she ran till she reached the Marwa mountain. She ran to and fro (b etween the two mountains) many times. They she said to herself, 'i'd better go and see the state of the child,' she went and found it in a state of one on the point of dying. She could not endure to watch it dying and said (to herself), 'If I go and look, I may find somebody.' She went and ascended the Safa mountain and looked for a long while but could not find anybody. Thus she completed seven rounds (of running) between Safa and Marwa. Again she said (to herself), 'I'd better go back and see the state of the child.' But suddenly she heard a voice, and she said to that strange voice, 'Help us if you can offer any help.' Lo! It was Gabriel (who had made the voice). Gabriel hit the earth with his heel like this (Ibn 'Abbas hit the earth with his heel to Illustrate it), and so the water gushed out. Ishmael's mother was astonished and started digging. (Abu Al-Qasim) (i.e. the Prophet) said, "If she had left the water, (flow naturally without her intervention), it would have been flowing on the surface of the e arth.") Ishmael's mother started drinking from the water and her milk increased for her child . Afterwards some people of the tribe of Jurhum, while passing through the bottom of the valley, saw some birds, and that astonished them, and they said, 'Birds can only be found at a place where there is water.' They sent a messenger who searched the place and found the water, and returned to inform them about it. Then they all went to her and said, 'O Ishmael's mother! Will you allow us to be with you (or dwell with you)?' (And thus they stayed there.) Later on her boy reached the age of puberty and married a lady from them. Then an idea occurred to Abraham which he disclosed to his wife (Sarah), 'I want to call on my dependents I left (at Mecca).' When he went there, he greeted (Ishmael's wife) and said, 'Where is Ishmael?' She replied, 'He has gone out hunting.' Abraham said (to her), 'When he comes, tell him to change the threshold of his gate.' When he came, she told him the same whereupon Ishmael said to her, 'You are the threshold, so go to your family (i.e. you are divorced).' Again Abraham thought of visiting his dependents whom he had left (at Mecca), and he told his wife (Sarah) of his intentions. Abraham came to Ishmael's house and asked. "Where is Ishmael?" Ishmael's wife replied, "He has gone out hunting," and added, "Will you stay (for some time) and have something to eat and drink?' Abraham asked, 'What is your food and what is your drink?' She replied, 'Our food is meat and our drink is water.' He said, 'O Allah! Bless their meals and their drink." Abu Al-Qa-sim (i.e. Prophet) said, "Because of Abraham's invocation there are blessings (in Mecca)." Once more Abraham thought of visiting his family he had left (at Mecca), so he told his wife (Sarah) of his decision. He went and found Ishmael behind the Zam-zam well, mending his arrows. He said, "O Ishmael, Your Lord has ordered me to build a house for Him." Ishmael said, "Obey (the order of) your Lord." Abraham said, "Allah has also ordered me that you s hould help me therein." Ishmael said, "Then I will do." So, both of them rose and Abraham started building (the Ka'ba) while Ishmael went on handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, "O our Lord ! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (2.127). When the building became high and the old man (i.e. Abraham) could no longer lift the stones (to such a high position), he stood over the stone of Al-Maqam and Ishmael carried on handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, 'O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily You are All-Hearing, All-Knowing." (2.127). (Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 584)

    According to these traditions, Abraham left Ishmael and his mother at Mecca when the former was still suckling. Abraham came back to visit when Hajar had died and Ishmael had already been married. Assuming that these traditions are correct, we are then either to assume that the command to sacrifice Ishmael took place when he was already an adult and married twice, or the command was not directed towards him but to his brother Isaac instead. Perhaps, Meherally can solve this puzzle for us this time.


    One may even question author's understanding. Allah alone knows the Truth.

    "And whose word can be Truer than Allah's?" 4: 87

    Say, "Allah's guidance is the (only) guidance, and we have been directed to submit overselves to the Lord of the worlds" 6:71

    Al-Hamdulillah, I rest my case.


    Indeed, God's Word is true, and his Word is that which is recorded in the Holy Bible:

    "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'." John 14:6

    "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." John 17:17

    "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:31

    Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, our Great God and Savior. We too rest our case and lay it at the feet of our gloriously risen Savior, Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. Amen.

    *As a side note that has little bearing on the main thrust of my points, I should point out that the phrase, "and some continue to disagree" are not part of my original comments. This phrase was added by the person who formats my paper for the web site, answering-islam. Just in case Akbarally tries to twist my words, I would like to also add that this is the only phrase that is not part of my original comments.

    Sam Shamoun

    Responses to Akbarally Meherally
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