14: Are the Arabs the Descendants of Abraham?
he Middle East will never have
peace until the above question is honestly answered according to the
historical facts. Myths and legends are fine as stories for children, but
in the real world we must have facts and documentation, not legends. As
the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it:
Arabian literature has its own version of prehistoric times, but it is
Another source, A Dictionary of
Islam, calls the Arab version of Ishmael’s history a “great deal of
The pure Arabs are those who claim to be descended from Joktan or
Qahtan, whom the present Arabs regard as their principle founder... The
‘Arabu ‘l-Musta’ribah, the mixed Arabs, claim to be descended from
Ishmael. They boast as much as the Jews of being reckoned the children
of Abraham. This circumstance will account for the preference with which
they uniformly regard this branch of their pedigree, and for the many
romantic legends they have grafted upon it... The Arabs, in their
version of Ishmael’s history, have mixed a great deal of romance with
the narrative of Scripture.
Encyclopedia of Islam is even more telling:
Mohammed was not informed about the family of Abraham.
The Arab claim to the land of Israel
rests entirely on three false assumptions:
Arabs are the descendants of Abraham through Ishmael.
2. Ishmael and his descendants were included in the covenant God made with
3. Since the Abrahamic covenant included the land of Israel, the Arabs
have a legitimate claim to it.
The Historical Record
According to the Torah, when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, he went West
to what is now called Israel (Gen. 12 ff.). He became a dweller in tents
in that land. It was in Israel that God made a covenant with him for the
land in which he was living at that time. It was in Israel that he
fathered Isaac, Ishmael, and many other sons and daughters. Isaac was the
only son of Abraham chosen by God to be the heir of the covenant. Abraham
took Isaac to Mt. Moriah to be offered up as a sacrifice to God.
The Torah is contradicted by the
Qur’an at nearly every point. According to Sura 2:119-121, Abraham and
Ishmael did not dwell in tents in Israel but in the city of Mecca in
Arabia. Together they rebuilt the Ka’bah and placed the black stone in the
wall. It was Abraham who started the tradition of an annual pilgrimage to
Mecca, throwing stones at the devil, etc. Abraham took Ishmael (not Isaac)
to nearby Mt. Mina to offer as a sacrifice to God.
Ishmael’s twelve sons were named
Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur,
Naphish, and Kedemah.
They intermarried with the local population in North Arabia and produced
several nomadic tribes know as the “Ishmaelites.”
It was prophesied in the Torah that
Ishmael and his family would “live to the East of all his brothers.”
Genesis goes on to say,
they settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes
This broad area is the desert
section East of Egypt in Northern Arabia toward the kingdom of the
The Ishmaelites are mentioned as a
distinct tribe in the Assyrian records. They later intermarried with and
were absorbed by the Midianites and other local tribes. In Genesis
37:25-28; 39:1, the Ishmaelites are called the Midianites and in Judges
8:22-24, the Midianites are called the Ishmaelites.
The identification cannot be made any stronger and so the idea that the
Arabs are descended from Ishmael is, in a word, false:
There is a prevalent notion that the Arabs, both of the south and north,
are descended from Ishmael; and the passage in Gen. xvi.12, “he (Ishmael)
shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren,” is often cited as if it
were a prediction of that national independence which, upon the whole, the
Arabs have maintained more than any other people. But this supposition is
founded on a misconception of the original Hebrew, which runs literally,
“he shall before the faces of all his brethren,” i.e., (according to the
idiom above explained, in which “before the face” denotes the east), the
habitation of his posterity shall be “to the east” of the settlements of
Abraham’s other descendants... These prophecies found their accomplishment
in the fact of the sons of Ishmael being located generally speaking to the
east of the other descendants of Abraham, whether of Sara or of Keturah.
But the idea of the southern Arabs being of the posterity of Ishmael is
entirely without foundation, and seems to have originated in the tradition
invented by Arab vanity that they, as well as the Jews, are of the seed of
Abraham—a vanity which, besides disfiguring and falsifying the whole
history of the patriarch and his son Ishmael, has transferred the scene of
it from Palestine to Mecca.”
was already populated by the descendants of Cush and Shem long before
Abraham or Ishmael were born.
Their cities and temples have been well documented by archeologists. If
all the Arab people descended from Ishmael as Mohammed claimed, where did
all the original Arabs go? What happened to them? Who did Ishmael marry if
the Arabs did not already exist? If Arabia was unpopulated, who built
Mecca? Since he lived there, obviously it existed before he was born. The
facts speak for themselves. The Arab people existed before, during, and
after Ishmael started roaming the wilderness of North Arabia.
The descendants of Ishmael were
scattered in Northern Arabia from the wilderness of Shur to the ancient
city of Havilah. And as we have seen, they were absorbed by the local
tribes such as the Midianites.
There is no historical or archeological evidence that Ishmael went south
to Mecca and became the “Father” of the Arab race. Some modern Arab
scholars admit that before Mohammed, Qahtan was said to be the “Father” of
the Arab people, not Ishmael.
The Abrahamic Covenant was given only
to Isaac and to his descendants. Ishmael and the other sons of Abraham
were explicitly excluded by God from having any part of the covenant made
And Abraham said to God,
“Oh, that Ishmael might live before you!” Then God said, “No, Sarah your
wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will
establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his
descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have
blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and I will multiply him
exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great
nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear
to you at the set time next year.”
Therefore the descendants of
Ishmael and the other sons of Abraham do not have any claim to the land of
Israel because they are not included in the covenant God made with
Abraham. Only the Jews have any claim to the land of Israel.
Muslims like to claim that Islam give
them the right to claim the land of Israel as their own. This claim rests
upon two false assumptions:
1. All Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael;
2. Mohammed went to Jerusalem.
Three Historical Facts
The first assumption has already been
proven false. The Arab people are not the descendants of Ishmael and hence
they are not the heirs of the Patriarchs, the prophets, the Scriptures or
the land of Israel.
The claim that Mohammed went to
Jerusalem is false. According to the Qur’an and the Hadith, Mohammed had a
dream in the middle of the night in which he traveled through the sky,
visited seven heavens, met great people like Jesus, and visited the
Jerusalem. Since this was only a dream, he was never actually in
Jerusalem. The Mosque on the temple site in Jerusalem is a hoax built on
the lie that Mohammed stood on the site.
Nowhere does the Qur’an state that
Ishmael is the progenitor of the Arab race. Since it is not taught in the
Qur’an, it cannot be a true Islamic belief.
The Arab people are not the children
of Ishmael. Even if they were, they would still have no claim to Israel
because Ishmael was excluded by God Himself from having any part in the
covenant made with Abraham. Isaac was the only heir of the Abrahamic
covenant. Thus the Arabs as a people have no claim to the land of Israel.
The Muslims have no claim to the land of Israel either. Mohammed never
went to Jerusalem except in a dream. The only people with a spiritual and
biblical claim to the land of Israel are the descendants of Isaac, the