gathered together to burn Abraham, they imprisoned him in a house, and built for him a great pile, as we read in Surah Saffat: They said, Build a pile for him and cast him into the glowing fire. Then they gathered together quantities of wood and stuff to burn; and so, by the grace of God, Abraham came out of the fire safe and sound, with the words on his lips, — God is sufficient for me (Surah xxxix. 39); and He is the best Supporter (Surah iii. 173). For the Lord said, O Fire! be thou cool and pleasant unto Abraham.1

Now, let us compare the story of Abraham as current amongst the Jews, with the same story in Qur'an and Tradition as given above, and see how they differ or agree. The following is from the Midrash Rabbah on Abraham brought out of Ur (Gen. xv. 7).

Terah used to make images. Going out one day, he told his son Abraham to sell them. When a man came to buy, Abraham asked him how old he was.  Fifty or sixty years, he replied. Strange, said the other, that a man sixty years of age should worship things hardly a few days old! On hearing which the man, ashamed, passed on. Then a woman carrying in her hand a cup of wheaten flour said, Place this before the idols. On which, Abraham, getting up, took his staff in his hand, and having broken the idols with it, placed the staff in

1 In the last few pages the quotations from the Qur'an are all from Surahs xxi. and xxxvii., and the verses being so numerous and detached are not numbered in detail; but they will be found in passages succeeding verse 52 of the former, and verse 84 of the latter Surah. The Qur'an passages are throughout printed in italics.


the hand of the biggest. His father coming up, cried, "Who hath done all this?" Abraham said, "What can be concealed from thee? A woman carrying a cup of wheaten flour asked me to place it before the gods; I took and placed it before them; one said, I will eat it first, and another, I will eat first. Then the big one took the staff, and broke them all in pieces." His father: "Why do you tell such a foolish tale to me? Do these know anything?" He answered, "Does thine ear hear what thy mouths speaks?" On this his father seized and made him over to Nimrod, who bade him worship Fire. Abraham: "Rather worship Water that putteth out Fire." N. "Then worship Water." A. "Rather worship that which bringeth Water." N. "Then worship the Cloud." A. "In such case, let us worship Wind that drives away the Cloud." N. "Then worship Wind." A. "Rather let us worship Man that standeth against the wind." On this Nimrod closed:— "If thou arguest with me about things which I am unable to worship other than Fire, into it I will cast thee; then, let the God thou worshippest deliver thee there from." So Abraham went down into the flames, and remained there safe and unhurt.

Comparing, now, this Jewish story with what we saw of it in the Qur'an, little difference will be found; and what there is no doubt arose from Muhammad hearing of it by the ear from the Jews. What makes this the more likely is that Abraham's father is in the Qur'an called Azar,1 while both in the Midrash and Torah he is called Terah. But the Prophet probably heard the name in Syria (where, as we learn from Eusebius, the name had somewhat of a similar sound), and so remembered it.

1 Surah vi. 74.