Sons of Abraham

    The struggle for land and nationhood in the Palestine/Israel region is so utterly tragic and so unnecessary. The violence and killing which has been going on continuously, day after day since the end of World War II — when ‘peace’ was supposed to have finally arrived — seems like a cruel mockery. The war did not end, for many people in the Holy land, it just got a whole lot worse.

    On analysis, the nature of this conflict is about family. The central figure around which the issue rotates is the Patriarch Abraham, father of the prophets; one side of his family believe that God gave the homeland as a gift only to them — the Bani Israel. But on closer inspection of the written legacy in Genesis (17:8), we find that the promise of the land of Canaan was for the ‘seed’ of Abraham, and at this point Isaac (father of Israel/Jacob) had not yet been born. Therefore, the first son of the Prophet named Ishmael, who was thirteen at the time, was the only living heir. This was the first Covenant, and it was sealed by Abraham and Ishmael performing circumcision, as commanded by God. 

    The implication is clear: that ALL the children of Abraham were included in this covenant. Interesting indeed is a study by an international team of archaeologists and geneticists, which found that most of today’s Arabic and Middle-East Jewish populations share a strong genetic link to the ancient Canaanites. Needless to say, all male members of Arab and Jewish tribes since then have been circumcised. So, if the claim to the land is based on God’s Covenant, we must admit that it was not one-sided; not only for one-seed of Abraham.

    We also know that Ishmael had twelve sons (Genesis 17:20), and at least one daughter. And even though Abraham was forced by Sarah to send Ishmael and his mother Hajar away into the desert, after Isaac was born, we know the family ties between Ishmael and Isaac remained strong. Ishmael was actually the uncle of Israel (Jacob) and Isaac even married his eldest son Esau to Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael. Also we learn that the two brothers buried their father Abraham together, the tomb is in an area now known as the city of Hebron/Al-Khalili.

    In the Qur’an we learn much more about the bond between Abraham and Ishmael. Many times the patriarch travelled from Canaan to the valley of Makkah, to visit his son and wife, Hajar. The house of God — the Ka’bah — itself was built by Abraham and Ishmael, the central direction of worship of the One God, for all Muslims and believers around the world. 

    I am repeating these facts because I believe the land Palestine and Israel has indeed been bequeathed for all the children of Abraham, and the teachings and worship of One God. That is the view which should be adopted by the rest of the world, and all efforts made to reunite the hearts of Ishmaelites with the Israelites, and pray to God for the genocidal killing to stop, and forgiveness and peace to reign.

    “There is no good in much of their secret conferences except those who enjoineth charity and kindness and peace-making among the people. Whosoever does that, seeking the good pleasure of God, We shall bestow on him a great reward.” Al Nisa (4):114

    (This article was written in October 2023, as tension escalated in Gaza and the West Bank.)