‘Ishmael Is Not the Father Of Muhammad’ Revisited

Sam Shamoun

In my original paper, I set out to demonstrate that Ishmael was not the ancestor of Muhammad. I demonstrated that the biblical record does not agree with the Quran and Ahadith regarding Ishmael's alleged settlement in Mecca and purported marriage to a Jurhumite. I also demonstrated that the alleged genealogical records linking Muhammad to Ishmael are not only late, but directly contradict each other. Here, I seek to provide additional evidence from Muslim sources which clearly undermine the claim that Muhammad was an actual descendent of Ishmael.

The following traditions demonstrate that even Muslims were unable to link Muhammad's lineage to Ishmael, going so far as to say that anyone claiming to be able to do so was a liar. This casts great doubt upon whether Muhammad was truly of the seed of Ishmael.

We begin with the statements of Ibn Kathir:

There is no question of ‘Adnan being of the line of Ishmael, son of Abraham, upon both of whom be peace. What dispute there is relates to the number of forebears there were from ‘Adnan to Ishmael according to the various sources.

At one end of the spectrum, there is the extreme view that considers there to have been FORTY; this is the view of Christians and Jews who adopted it from the writings of Rakhiya, the clerk of Armiya (Jeremy) b. Halqiya, as we will relate.

Some authorities maintain there THIRTY, others TWENTY, yet more FIFTEEN, TEN, NINE, or SEVEN.

It has been said that the lowest estimate given is for FOUR, according to the account given by Musa b. Ya‘qub, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah b. Wahb b. Zum’a al-Zuma‘i from his aunt, and then from Umm Salama who stated that the Prophet (SAAS) said that the line was: "Ma‘ad b. ‘Adnan b. Adab b. Zand b. al-Tara b. A‘raq al-Thara".

According to Umm Salam this Zanad was al-Hamaysa‘, al-Yara was Nabit, while A‘raq al-Thara was Ishmael. This was implied because he was Abraham's son; for Abraham was not consumed by hell-fire, since fire does not consume moist earth, the meaning of al-thara.

Al-Daraqatni stated that he knew of no "Zand" except the one in this tradition, and Zand b. al-Jawn, who was Abu Dalama the poet.

Abu al-Qasim al-Suhayli and other Imams stated that the time lapse between ‘Adnan and Ishmael was too great for there to have been only FOUR, TEN, or even TWENTY generations between them. That, they said, was because the age of Ma‘ad son of ‘Adnan was twelve at the time of Bukhtunassar (Nebuchadnezzar).

Abu Ja‘far al-Tabari and others related that Almighty God sent a revelation at that time to Armiya’ b. Halqiya telling him to go to Bukhtunassar to inform him that God had given him rule over the Arabs. And God commanded to Armiya’ to carry Ma‘ad b. Adnan on the horse al-Buraq so that they would not bear him any rancour saying, "For I shall draw forth from his loins a noble Prophet by whom I shall seal the prophets."

‘Armiya did that, bearing Ma‘ad on al-Buraq to the land of Syria where he grew up among the Jews who remained there following the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem. There he married a woman named Ma‘ana, daughter of Jawshin unrest had quietened [sic] down and accord prevailed in the Arabian peninsula. Rakhiya, Armiya’s scribe, wrote his master's genealogy down in a document he had there which was to go into Armiya’s library; and he similarly preserved the genealogy of Ma‘ad. But God knows best.


Al-Suhayli commented further, "We have merely discussed tracing back these lines to accord with the school of thought of those scholars who favour and do not disapprove of it, men such as Ibn Ishaq, al-Bukhari, al-Zubayr b. Bakkar, al-Tabari, and others."

As for Malik, God have mercy on him, he expressed disapproval when asked about someone tracing his descent back to Adam and commented: "WHENCE COMES TO HIM KNOWLEDGE OF THAT?" When he was asked about tracing back to Ishmael, he expressed similar disapproval, asking, "WHO COULD PROVIDE SUCH AN INFORMATION?" Malik also disliked tracing the genealogy of the prophets, such as saying, "Abraham son of so-and-so". Al-Mu‘ayti stated this in his book.

Al-Suhayli commented also that Malik's viewpoint was analogous to what was related of ‘Urwa b. al-Zubayr who is reported to have said, "WE HAVE FOUND NO ONE WHO KNOWS THE LINE BETWEEN ‘ADNAN AND ISHMAEL."

It is reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said, "Between ‘Adnan and Ishmael there were 30 ancestors WHO ARE UNKNOWN."

Ibn ‘Abbas is also reputed to have said when he traced back lines of descent as far as ‘Adnan: "The genealogists have LIED. TWICE OR THRICE." And that (scepticism) is even more characteristic of Ibn Mas‘ud, whose (attitude) was like that of Ibn ‘Abbas.

‘Umar b. al-Khattab stated, "We carry back the genealogy ONLY AS FAR AS ‘ADNAN."

Abu ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-Barr stated in his book Al-Anba’ fi Ma‘rifat Qaba’il al-Ruwah (Facts Concerning Knowledge of the Tribes of the Transmitters) that Ibn Lahi‘a related from Abu al-Aswad that he heard ‘Urwa b. al-Zubayr say, "WE NEVER FOUND ANYONE WHO KNEW [sic] GENEALOGY BACK PAST ‘ADNAN, NOR PAST QAHTAN, UNLESS THEY WERE USING CONJECTURE. "

Abu al-Aswad stated that he had heard Abu Bakr Sulayman b. Abu Khaytham, one of the very most knowledgeable men of the poetry and the genealogy of Quraysh, say, "WE NEVER KNEW ANYONE WITH INFORMATION GOING BACK BEYOND MA‘AD B. ‘ADNAN, whether relating poetry or other knowledge."

Abu ‘Umar said that there was a group of the predecessors including ‘Abd Allah b. Mas‘ud, ‘Amr b. Maymun al-Azdi, and Muhammad b. Ka‘b al-Quradhi who, when they recited the verse from the Qur’an "and those after them who no one but God knows" (surat Ibrahim, XIV, v. 9) would comment, "THE GENEALOGISTS LIED."

Abu ‘Umar, God have mercy on him, stated, "We hold the meaning of this to differ from their interpretation. What is implied is that regarding those who claim to enumerate Adam's descendants, no one knows them except God who created them. But as for the lines of descent of the Arabs, the scholars conversant with their history and genealogy were aware of and learned by heart about the people and the major tribes, DIFFERING IN SOME DETAILS OF THAT." (The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, 1998], pp. 50-52; capital emphasis ours)

The next section comes from Ibn Sa‘d:

.. he on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas; he said: Verily the Prophet (may peace be upon him), WHENEVER he related his genealogy, DID NOT GO BEYOND MA‘ADD IBN ‘ADNAN IBN UDAD, then he kept quiet and said: The narrators of genealogy ARE LIARS, since Allah says: "There passed many generations between them."

Ibn ‘Abbas says: The Prophet would have been informed of the genealogy (prior to Adnan by Allah) if he (Prophet) had so wished.

.. he on the authority of ‘Abd Allah. Verily he recited "(The tribes of) ‘Ad and Thamud and those after them; NONE SAVETH ALLAH KNOWETH THEM." The genealogists ARE LIARS.

... between Ma‘add and Isma‘il there were more than THIRTY GENERATIONS; but he did not give their names, nor described their genealogy, probably he did not mention it because he might have heard the Hadith of Abu Salih on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas who narrated about the Prophet (may Allah bless them) THAT HE KEPT QUIET AFTER MENTIONING MA‘ADD IBN ‘ADNAN.

Hisham said: A narrator informed me on the authority of my father, but I had not heard it from him, that he related the genealogy thus, Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan Ibn Udad Ibn al-Hamaysa’ Ibn Salaman Ibn ‘Aws Ibn Yuz Ibn Qamwal Ibn Ubayyi Ibn al-‘Awwam, Ibn Nashid Ibn Haza Ibn Buldas Ibn Tudlaf Ibn Tabikh Ibn Jahim Ibn Nahish Ibn Makha Ibn ‘Ayfa Ibn ‘Abqar Ibn ‘Ubayd Ibn al-Du‘a Ibn Hamdan Ibn Sanbar Ibn Yathriba Ibn Nahzan Ibn Yalhan Ibn Ir‘awa Ibn ‘Ayfa Ibn Dayshan Ibn ‘Isar Ibn Iqnad Ibn Ibham Ibn Muqsi Ibn Nahith Ibn Zarih Ibn Shumayyi Ibn Mazzi Ibn ‘Aws Ibn ‘Arram IBN QAYDHAR Ibn Isma‘il Ibn Ibrahim (my Allah bless them both).

... There was a Tadmurite whose patronymic was Abu Ya‘qub; he was one ... of the Israelite Muslims, and had read Israelite literature and acquired proficiency in it; he mentioned that Burakh Ibn Nariyya the scribe of Irmiya (Jeremiah) drew the genealogy of Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan and wrote it in his books. This is known to the Israelite scholars and learned men. The names (mentioned here) resemble them, and if there is any difference it is because of the language since they have been translated from Hebrew.

... I heard a person saying: Ma‘add was contemporary with ‘Isa Ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) and his genealogy is this: Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan Ibn Udad Ibn Zayd Ibn Yaqdur Ibn Yaqdum Ibn Amin Ibn Manhar Ibn Sabuh Ibn al-Hamaysa‘ Ibn Yashjub Ibn Ya‘rub, Ibn al-‘Awwam Ibn Nabit Ibn Salman Ibn Haml Ibn QAYDHAR Ibn Isma‘il Ibn Ibrahim.

He (Ibn Sa‘d) said: Some one has named al-‘Awwal BEFORE al-Hamaysa‘ thus showing (al-‘Awwam) as his son.

... Verily the genealogy of Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan HAS BEEN TRACED DIFFERENTLY. In some narrations it is Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan Ibn Muqawwam, Ibn Nahur Ibn Tirah Ibn Ya‘rub Ibn Yashjub IBN NABIT Ibn Isma ‘il.

He (Ibn Sa‘d) said: And some say: Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan Ibn Udad ’Itahab Ibn Ayyub IBN QAYDHAR Ibn Isma‘il Ibrahim.

Muhammad Ibn Ishaq said: Qusayyi Ibn Kilab traced his genealogy to Qaydhar Ibn Isma‘il in some of his verses. Muhammad Ibn al-Sa‘ib al-Kalbi recited this couplet on the authority of his father ascribing it to Qusayyi:

"I have nothing to do with nursing if the children of Qaydhar and Nabit did not establish relationship with the same."

Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Sa‘d said: I do not find much difference between them. Verily, Ma‘add was descended from Qaydhar Ibn Isma‘il; and this DIFFERENCE in his genealogy shows that the same WAS NOT CORRECTLY REMEMBERED and it was borrowed from the people of the scriptures (ahl al-Kitab) and translated, so they made differences. If it had been correct the Apostle of Allah must have known it. The best course with us is to trace the genealogy to Ma‘add Ibn ‘Adnan THEN TO KEEP QUIET UP TO ISMA‘IL IBN IBRAHIM.

... he on the authority of ‘Urwah; he said: WE DID NOT FIND ANY ONE TRACING THE GENEALOGY ABOVE MA‘ADD IBN ‘ADNAN.


He (Ibn Sa‘d) said: Hsiham Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Sa‘ib informed us on the authority of his father that Ma‘add was with Bukht Nassar (Banu Ched Nader) when he fought in the forts of Yaman. (Ibn Sa'ad's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir Volume I, parts I & II, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], pp. 50-53; capital and underline emphasis ours)

We conclude with Al-Tabari. Much of what he says is material found above in Ibn Sa‘d:

"... I heard the Messenger of God say, ‘Ma‘add ‘Adnan b. Udad b. Zand b. Yara b. A‘raq al-Thara.’ Umm Salamah: Zand is al-Hamaysa‘, Yara is NABT and A‘raq al-Thara is Ishmael, son of Abraham.

... ‘Adnan, AS SOME GENEALOGISTS ASSERT, was the son of Udad b. Muqawwam b. Nahur b. Tayrah b. Ya ‘rub b. NABIT b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham), WHILE OTHERS SAY: ‘Adnan b. Udad b. Aytahab b. Ayyub b. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham). Qusayy b. Kilab traces his descent back to QAYDHAR in his poetry. YET OTHER GENEALOGISTS SAY: ‘Adnan b. Mayda‘ b. Mani‘ b. Udad b. Ka‘b b. Yashjub b. Ya‘rub b. al-Hamaysa‘ b. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham). THESE DIFFERENCES arise because it is an old science, taken from the people of the first Book (the Old Testament).

... Muhammad b. al-Sa‘ib al-Kalbi, although I did not hear this from him myself, that he traced the descent as follows; Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. al-Hamaysa‘ b. Salaman b. ‘Aws b. Buz b. Qamwal b. Ubayy b. al-‘Awwam b. Nashid b. Haza b. Bildas b. Yidlaf b. Tabakh b. Jaham b. Tahash b. Makha b. ‘Ayfa b. Abqar b. ‘Ubayd b. al-Da‘a b. Hamdan b. Sanbar b. Yathribi b. Yahzan b. Yalhan b. Ar‘awa b. ‘Ayfa b. Dayshan b. ‘Isar b. Aqnad b. Ayham b. Muqsir b. Nahath b. Rizah b. Shamma b. Mizza b. ‘Aws b. ‘Arram b. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) Ibrahim (Abraham).

... There was a man from Tadmur whose patronymic (kunyah) was Abu Ya‘qub. He was one of the children of Israel who had become a Muslim, who had read in their books and become deeply learned. He said that Barukh b. Nariyya, a scribe from Urmiya, had established the lineage of Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan with him and had set it in his writings. It was well known among the learned men of the People of the Book and set down in their books. It was close to the names given above, and perhaps the difference between them was owing to the language, since these names had been transliterated from Hebrew.

Al-Harith- Muhammad b. Sa‘d: Hisham (al-Kalbi) recited to me the following line of verse, which was related to him by his father:

I belong to no tribe which brought me up but that in which the descendants of Qaydhar and al-Nabit took root.

By al-Nabit, he meant Nabt b. Isma‘il (Ishmael).

... Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. al-Hamaysa‘ b. Ashub b. NABT B. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael).

OTHERS RELATE: Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. Umayn b. Shajab b. Tha‘alabah b. ‘Atr b. Yarbah b. Muhallam b. al-‘Awwam b. Muhtamil b. Ra‘imah b. al-‘Ayqan b. ‘Allah b. al-Shahdud b. al-Zarib b. ‘Abqar b. Ibrahim (Abraham) b. Isma‘il b. Yazan b. A‘waj b. al-Mut‘im b. al-Tamh b. al-Qasur b. ‘Anud b. Da‘da‘ b. Mahmud b. al-Za‘id b. Nadwan b. Atamah b. Daws b. Hisn b. al-Nizal b. al-Qumayr b. al-Mushajjir b. Mu‘damir b. Sayfi b. NABT B. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham), the Friend of the Compassionate.

STILL OTHERS: Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. Zayd b. Yaqdir b. Yaqdum b. Hamaysa‘ b. NABT B. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham).

OTHERS: Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. Hamaysa‘ b. Nabt b. Salman, who is Salaman, b. Hamal b. NABT B. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham).

OTHERS: Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. al-Muqawwam b. Nahur b. M Mishrah b. Yashjub b. Malik b. Ayman b. AL-NABIT B. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham).

OTHERS: Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udd b. Udad b. al-Hamaysa‘ b. Ashub b. Sa‘d b. Yarbah b. Nadir b. Humayl b. Munahhim b. Lafath b. al-Sabuh b. Kinanah b. al-‘Awwam b. NABT B. QAYDHAR b. Isma‘il (Ishmael).

A certain genealogist told me that he had found that some Arab scholars had memorized FORTY ANCESTORS OF MA‘ADD AS FAR AS ISMA‘IL (Ishmael) in Arabic, quoting Arabic verses as evidence for this, and that he had collated the names they gave with what the People of the Book say and had found that the number agreed BUT THAT THE ACTUAL NAMES DIFFERED. He dictated these names to me and I wrote them down. They are as follows; Ma‘add b. ‘Adnan b. Udad b. Hamaysa‘ (Hamaysa‘ is Salman, who is Umayn) b. Hamayta‘ (who is Hamayda‘, who is al-Shajab) b. Salamn (who is Munjir Nabit, so called, he calimed, because he fed Arabs on milk and flour anjara, as the people lived well in his time ...)

Nabit b. ‘Aws (he is Tha‘labah, to whom the Tha‘labis descent is traced back) b. Bura (who is Buz, who is ‘Atr al-‘Ata‘ir, the first person to institute the custom of the ‘atirah for the Arabs) b. Shuha (who is Sa‘d Rajab, the first person to institute the custom of the rajabiyyah for the Arabs) b. Ya‘mana (who is Qamwal, who is Yarbah al-Nasib, who lived in the time of Sulayman b. Dawud the prophet) b. Kasdana (who is Muhallam Dhu al-‘Ayn) b. Hazana (who is al-‘Awwam) b. Bildasa (who is al-Muhtamil) b. Badlana (who is Yidlaf, who is Ra‘imah) b. Tahba (who is Tahab who is al-‘Ayqan) b. Jahma (who is Jaham, who is ‘Allah) b. Mahsha (who is Tahash. who is al-Shahdud) b. Ma‘jala (who is Makha, who is al-Zarib Khatim al-Nar b. ‘Aqara (who is ‘Afa, who is ‘Abqar, THE FATHER OF THE JINN, TO WHOM THE GARDEN ABQAR IS ASCRIBED) b. ‘Aqara (who is ‘Aqir, who is Ibrahim Jami ‘al-Shaml. He was called Jami‘ al-Shaml (settler of affairs) because every fearful person felt safe in his reign; he returned every outcast, and he attempted to make peace between all men) b. Banda‘a (who is Da‘a, who is Isma‘il Dhu al-Matabikh (master of kitchens), who was so called because during his reign he established a house for guests in every town of Arabs) b. Abda‘i (who is ‘Ubayd, who is Yazan al-Ta‘‘an, the first man to fight with lances, which are ascribed to him) b. Hamada (who is Hamdan, who is Isma‘il Dhu al-A‘waj; al-A‘waj was his horse, and the A‘waji breed of horses is ascribed to him) b. Bashmani (who is Yashbin, who is al-Mut‘im fi al-Mahl) b. Bathrani (who is Bathram, who is al-Tamh) b. Bahrani (who is Yahzan, who is al-Qasur) b. Yalhani (who is Yalhan, who is al-‘Anud) b. Ra‘wani (who is Ra‘wa, who is al-Da‘da‘) b. ‘Aqara (who is ‘Aqir) b. Dasan (who is al-Za‘id) b. ‘Asar (who is ‘Asir, who is al-Naydawan Dhu al-Andiyah…) b. Qanadi (who is Qanar, who is Ayyamah) b. Thamar (who is Bahami, who is Daws al-‘Itq…) b. Muqsir (who is Maqasiri, who is Hisn; he is also called Nahath, who is al-Nizal) b. Zarih (who is Qumayr) b. Sammi who is Samma, who is al-Mujashshir ...

b. Marza- or, some say, Marhar- b. Sanfa (who is al-Samr, who is al-Safi ...)

b. Ja‘tham (who is ‘Uram, who is al-Nabit, who is Qaydhar, the interpretation of Qaydhar, he said, is ‘ruler’, for he was the first of the descendants of Isma‘il to be king) b. Isma‘il (Ishmael), who was faithful to his promise, b. Ibrahim (Abraham), the Friend of the Compassionate b. Tarih (who is Azar) b. Nahur b. Saru‘ b. Arghawa b. Baligh (the interpretation of Baligh is ‘the divider’ as in Syriac; this is because it was he who divided the lands between the descendants of Adam, and he is Falij) b. ‘Abar b. Sha;ikh b. Arfakhshad b. Sam (Shem) b. Nuh (Noah) b. Lamk b. Mattushalakh b. Akhnukh (he is the prophet Idris) b. Yard (he is Yarid, in whose time idols were made) b. Mahla‘il b. Qaynan b. Anush b. Shithth (who is Hibatallah) b. Adam. Shith (Seth) was the successor of his father after Habil (Abel) was killed; his father said, ‘A gift of God (Hibatallah)’ in exchange for Habil,’ and his name was derived this.

We have mentioned earlier in this work in a concise and abridged form a part what we have been able to discover of the accounts of Isma‘il (Ishmael) b. Ibrahim (Abraham) and his ancestors, male and female, back to Adam, and of the events of every age during this period of time, and we shall not repeat them here. Hisham b. Muhammad: The Arabs used to say, ‘The flea has bitten since our father Anush was born, and sin has been forbidden since our father Shithth was born.’ The Syriac name for Shithth is Shith." (The History of Al-Tabari, Volume VI, Muhammad At Mecca, translated and annotated by W. Montgomery Watt and M.V. McDonald [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988], pp. 38-43; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Do notice the inherent contradictions of these traditions. First, none of the genealogical lists are uniform. Contradictions in the precise names and order of the names appear throughout these lists. Second, according to some traditions Ma‘add was a contemporary of the Lord Jesus. Yet, other traditions state that Ma‘add was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, men who lived six centuries before Christ was even born!

Third, as we had already noted in our original paper, these lists trace Muhammad to different sons of Ishmael. Some lists trace him to Kedar (Qaydhar), the son of Ishmael. Others trace it back to Nebaioth (Nabit), not Kedar. Fourth, much confusion exists regarding the exact number of generations from Ishmael and Adnan.

Finally, the very candid and open admission by the writers that no one was able to definitely trace Muhammad's genealogy beyond Adnan serves to undermine the Muslim claim that Muhammad was an ACTUAL descendent of Ishmael.

This concludes this paper for now. In the service of our risen Lord and eternal Savior, Jesus Christ, forever and ever.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page