Hamza Abdul Malik and the Ishmael Connection

Response to Muhammad In the Bible

[Part 1]

Hamza Abdul Malik has produced lectures, and has even debated, on the topic of Muhammad being prophesied in the Holy Bible. These lectures and debates can be purchased directly from his Islamic Propagation Center International website.

In this series of rebuttals, we will be examining all of Malik’s claims in order to refute them point-by-point. Hopefully by God’s grace, the readers will see that Muhammad is not in the Holy Bible and is definitely not a prophet of the true God.

In this first response we seek to address Malik’s claim that the promise of God to make Ishmael a great nation refers to Muhammad and the religion of Islam. The following arguments have been adapted and summarized from Mr. Malik’s debate with Dr. Jack Evans titled Muhammad in the Bible.

All quotations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV), unless noted otherwise.

We now proceed to Malik’s claims.

1. Genesis 12:1-3 a promise is made to Abraham that he would be blessed and that all the nations would bless him and be blessed in him. It is only the descendents of Ishmael, i.e. Muhammad, and the Muslims who have fulfilled this promises since they are the ones that bless Abraham by praying for him and his family.


Here is the passage in question:

"The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’" NIV

A comparison of Genesis 12:1-3 with the above made claims shows immediately that Malik has twisted the meaning of the text in a not so subtle way. He has actually reversed what the Holy Bible said.

God said that through Abraham all nations/families of the earth shall be blessed. Malik turns it around and claims that it is (the Muslims of) all nations who are now blessing Abraham. In the last phrase of Genesis 12:3 God is the implicit subject (the one who acts), he has the plan to bless all the nations (the object or target of God’s intended blessing), and he promises that his blessing will reach the nations through Abraham (the means or channel of God’s blessing). Apart from the issue whether the Muslim formula added after the name of prophets ("pbuh" in English) would qualify as ‘being blessed’ in the Biblical sense, the text does not talk about all nations blessing Abraham.

God gave Abraham an "immediate promise" that those around him, i.e. those of his contemporaries who would bless him would in turn be blessed, and those who turn against him, will suffer God’s curse. Moreover, Abraham received the long-term promise that eventually God’s blessing (redemption) would reach all nations through Abraham (specifically, the Messiah and Savior of the World will be Abraham’s descendant). Malik’s attempt to reverse the meaning of God’s promise to Abraham in order to turn it into some kind of authentication of and support for Islam is a clear abuse of the text. No, Islam and the Muslims are certainly not a fulfillment of this text.

Does the Muslim custom of adding "peace be upon him" after mentioning the name of a prophet have anything to do with the Bible? If Malik’s interpretation of God’s promise to Abraham is the correct one, then we should find some examples of godly men acting accordingly. Jesus himself mentions Abraham several times (e.g. in Matthew 8:11; Luke 16:22; 19:9; John 8:39), but not once does he add "pbuh" after his name, nor does he do so with any of the other prophets of God like Noah (Mt. 24:37), David (Mt. 12:3; 22:43), Solomon (Mt. 6:29; 12:42). Nor do the disciples of Jesus speak this way of Abraham (Acts 3:25; 7:2; etc.) or of any other of the prophets. The Old Testament is no different than the New in this regard. We do not find this formula, or any similar one, when Abraham is mentioned by Nehemiah (Neh. 9:7) or Isaiah (Isaiah 63:16) or in the Psalms (Ps. 105:9). This Muslim concept is completely foreign to the Bible.

There are a few examples in the Bible where the names of people that have been blessed by God are later connected with a blessing given by others, or the blessing itself contains the wish that the person(s) will be so blessed:

"So he blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, "God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh."’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh." Genesis 48:20

"Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, ‘We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem,’" Ruth 4:11

This, however, is again the opposite of Malik’s claim in connection with the Muslim behavior. The Muslims are not blessing others in the name of the God of Abraham, but apparently imagine that Abraham himself and his family need their prayers to receive blessing from God. This is a complete twisting of what God is promising Abraham. Abraham’s well-being and blessing does not depend in any way on whether the Muslims are praying for him or not.

Finally, there is no mention in Genesis 12:1-3 that those who will bless Abraham (for whatever reason) will therefore have the right faith. In fact, most people around Abraham were idolaters, and they may have blessed him simply because they realized that those who are friendly with him were doing well, while those who opposed him were in trouble. Case in point:

"At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, ‘God is with you in all that you do. Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.’ And Abraham said, ‘I will swear.’" Genesis 21:22-24

There is absolutely no divine endorsement of the religion or belief system held by those who blessed Abraham.

After these introductory comments about Malik’s misunderstandings and abuse of this text, let us now discuss what this passage is talking about.

God says that he would bless Abraham by making him great, i.e. famous and renowned throughout the world, and that the nations would be blessed in him. As we shall show later on, this same promise of blessing to the nations is said to come through both Isaac and Jacob and their seed.

There are actually several aspects to the meaning of "being blessed in Abraham". One element is that the nations would take Abraham as a prime example of blessing and faithfulness.

Taking Abraham as a paradigm of blessing entails the people coming to the realization that being blessed of God includes seeking the favor of God’s covenant people. This leads us to our second point, namely, that God’s blessings also refers to the nations receiving the knowledge of who and what the true God is like through the revelation which Abraham and his offspring were given. In other words, God would make known his nature and will to the world through Abraham and his offspring; specifically through the Messiah Jesus, Abraham’s son par excellence, and the Church:

"Thus says the LORD: ‘The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours; they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will plead with you, saying: "Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him."’" Isaiah 45:14

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." Isaiah 60:1-3

"And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong ... Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’" Zechariah 8:13, 20-23

"‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.’" John 4:20-22

"Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’" John 4:39-42

The NT teaches that all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ become spiritual children of Abraham and receive the blessings promised to the patriarchs:

"So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God." Romans 2:26-29

"Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith ... That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring - not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’ - in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Romans 4:9-13, 16-18

"Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." Galatians 3:7-9

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ - so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:13-14

"for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." Galatians 3:26-29

"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, ‘Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.’ Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.’ So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman." Galatians 3:21-31

"as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening." 1 Peter 3:6

It is quite clear that Abraham’s blessing to the nations has nothing to do with the Ishmaelites or Muhammad.

Malik then seeks to disqualify Moses and Jesus:

2. Moses and Jesus were national prophets and could not fulfill God’s promise that the nations would be blessed in Abraham.


Malik erroneously assumes that the only way for Moses or Jesus to fulfill the promise given to Abraham is if they were universal messengers, as opposed to being national prophets. Several comments are in order. First, the OT clearly states that God manifested his great power and glory to the world by delivering his people during the Exodus:

"Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, "Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed IN ALL THE EARTH.’"’" Exodus 9:13-16

"Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.’" Joshua 2:8-11

God’s name was made famous throughout the world because of what he had done for Israel in delivering them. This in turn made the nations realize that Israel’s God was the only true God and moved many of them to seek God’s favor by assisting his covenant people.

Second, Israel was commanded to make known God’s glory and wonders to the nations:

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!" Psalm 67:1-5

"Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! ... Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!" Psalm 105:1, 5-6

"I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations." Psalm 108:3

Hence, Moses didn’t need to be sent to the nations in order for them to know and receive the blessings of God. Thirdly, it is simply not true that the Lord Jesus was a national prophet since his message was intended for the entire world:

"When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion replied, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, "Go," and he goes, and to another, "Come," and he comes, and to my servant, "Do this," and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’" Matthew 8:5-12

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them AND THE GENTILES. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." Matthew 10:16-23

"And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’" Matthew 28:18-20

"And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations." Mark 13:10

"And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." Mark 14:9

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16

"For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’" Romans 15:7-9

"And they sang a new song, saying,  ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’" Revelation 5:9-10

"Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people." Revelation 14:6

The most interesting part of this is that the Quran agrees with the NT regarding the universal significance of the Lord Jesus’ mission:

"Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her Our Spirit, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: 'I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.' He said: 'Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son. She said: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?' He said: 'So (it will be): thy Lord saith, "That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign UNTO MEN (lilnnasi) and a Mercy from Us". It is a matter (so) decreed.'" S. 19:16-21

"And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for ALL PEOPLES (lilAAalameena)." S. 21:91

Malik next claims:

3. God promised to make Ishmael a great nation. Cf. Genesis 16:10; 17:18-20; 21:13.

Part of being a great nation includes receiving God’s commandments. Cf. Exodus 32:9-10; Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Genesis 18:18-19; Quran 2:132-133; 16:123.


Malik erroneously assumes that being a great nation necessarily includes receiving revelation from God. Even though it is true that part of what made Israel a great nation was the receiving of God’s law, there is nothing in the phrase itself which warrants such a conclusion.

Note how both the term ‘great’ and the phrase ‘great nation’(s) are used throughout the OT:

"Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city." Genesis 10:12

"Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.’" Deuteronomy 1:28

"(The Emim formerly lived there, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim." Deuteronomy 2:10

"It is also counted as a land of Rephaim. Rephaim formerly lived there - but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim - a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the LORD destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place," Deuteronomy 2:20-21

"driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day," Deuteronomy 4:38

"Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’" Deuteronomy 9:1-2

"then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves." Deuteronomy 11:23

"For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day." Joshua 23:9

"Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a people is coming from the north country, a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.’" Jeremiah 6:22

"For behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a gathering of great nations, from the north country. And they shall array themselves against her. From there she shall be taken. Their arrows are like a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed." Jeremiah 50:9

"Behold, a people is coming from the north, And a great nation and many kings Will be aroused from the remote parts of the earth." Jeremiah 50:41 NASB

"And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" Jonah 4:11; cf. 1:2, 3:2-3

The preceding examples show that the greatness of these nations and cities had nothing to do with receiving the laws and testimonies of God. In fact, many of them were heathens who worshiped false gods!

In light of the foregoing, we now turn our attention to the passages in question to see what exactly made Ishmael a great nation:

"And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before you!’ God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant WITH HIM as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father TWELVE PRINCES, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.’" Genesis 17:15-21

"And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.’ And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, DO AS SHE TELLS YOU, for THROUGH ISAAC shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring’ ... ‘Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’" Genesis 21:8-13, 18

According to these passages, Ishmael becoming a great nation did not include the covenant promises. God specifically says that his covenant was with Isaac and that Abraham’s offspring would be reckoned through Isaac’s line, not Ishmael. Ishmael’s greatness would be based on God granting him twelve sons who would become rulers, forming a great nation. Genesis records the fulfillment of this promise:

"These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's servant, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, named in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael; and Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, TWELVE PRINCES according to their tribes. (These are the years of the life of Ishmael: 137 years. He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.) They settled from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria. He settled over against all his kinsmen." Genesis 25:12-18

In light of the above, God’s promise to make Ishmael a great nation has nothing to do with either the covenant promises or Muhammad.

Malik continues:

4. Ishmael was a legitimate child of Abraham, being born according to a divine promise, and was Abraham’s legitimate heir. Cf. Genesis 15:4; 16:2-3, 7-11; 21:13; Deuteronomy 21:15-17.


First, it seems that Malik erroneously assumes that Christians somehow deny that Ishmael was a legitimate son of Abraham. If so, this would be nothing more than a straw man since no informed Christian denies that Ishmael was a legitimate child of Abraham. If Malik wasn’t assuming this than his claim here is nothing more than a red herring since the issue is not whether Ishmael was Abraham’s legitimate child. Rather, the real issue is whether Ishmael is the child that God promised Abraham would be the heir and recipient of the covenant promises. As we saw above, the answer is a resounding no.

Furthermore, none of the passages cited by Malik assert that Ishmael was born according to a divine promise. Here are the passages in question, adding the surrounding context for further clarification:

"After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’ And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man shall not be your heir; your VERY OWN SON shall be your heir.’ And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:1-6

"As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.’" Genesis 15:12-21

According to the preceding section:

  1. God would give Abraham a SON, not sons, as an heir.
  2. Abraham, through this son, would have offspring as numerous as the stars.
  3. Abraham’s offspring would dwell in a foreign land for four hundred years, where they would become servants.
  4. God would deliver them from bondage and bring them back to the land promised to Abraham.

When God gave this promise to Abraham, he had only one wife. Although it was not stated explicitly at this time, but it is there implicitly, based on the context into which it was spoken, that this would be a son of his wife Sarah. If Abraham later on, because of a temporary lapse of faith in God’s promise, sleeps with Hagar, the slave girl of his wife, then this does not change God’s intention to give Abraham the son of promise through his wife Sarah. Because of this act of disbelief there are two sons in the end, and then God has to clarify which one of the two sons is meant. (In fact, God made this clear before Isaac was even conceived, Genesis 17:15-21, and then again after he was weaned.) We have already shown that God explicitly stated that his covenant was with Isaac and that he was the heir, not Ishmael. This is confirmed here:

"Abraham gave ALL HE HAD to Isaac. But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country." Genesis 25:5-6

Interestingly, the famous Muslim historian al-Tabari used a similar line of reasoning to prove that the child which Abraham was commanded to sacrifice was actually Isaac:

"As for the above-mentioned proof from the Quran that it really was Isaac, it is God's word which informs us about the prayer of His friend Abraham when he left his people to migrate to Syria with Sarah. Abraham prayed, ‘I am going to my Lord who will guide me. My Lord! Grant me a righteous child.’ This was before he knew Hagar, who was to be the mother of Ishmael. After mentioning this prayer, God goes on to describe the prayer and mentions that he foretold to Abraham that he would have a gentle son. God also mentions Abraham's vision of himself sacrificing that son when he was old enough to walk with him. The Book does not mention any tidings of a male child given to Abraham except in the instance where it refers to Isaac, in which God said, ‘And his wife, standing by laughed when we gave her tidings of Isaac, and after Isaac, Jacob’, and ‘Then he became fearful of them’. They said. ‘Fear not!’ and gave him tidings of a wise son. Then his wife approached, moaning, and smote her face, and cried, ‘A barren old woman’. Thus, wherever the Quran mentions God giving tidings of the birth of a son to Abraham, it refers to Sarah (and thus to Isaac) and the same must be true of God's words ‘So we gave him tidings of a gentle son’, as it is true of all such references in the Quran." (The History of al-Tabari, Vol. II, Prophets and Patriarchs, trans. William M. Brenner [State University of New York Press, Albany 1987], p. 89; bold and italic emphasis ours)

With the foregoing in mind, we now turn to the Holy Bible to demonstrate that God was speaking of Isaac’s descendants.

"Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you AND TO YOUR OFFSPRING I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN and will give to YOUR OFFSPRING all these lands. And IN YOUR OFFSPRING all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.’" Genesis 26:1-5

"Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, ‘I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to YOUR OFFSPRING. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and IN YOU and YOUR OFFSPRING shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’" Genesis 28:10-17

These two passages show that all the nations would be blessed in the seed of Isaac and Jacob, not Ishmael!

"And he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.’" Exodus 3:6-8

"See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them ... The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN." Deuteronomy 1:8, 10

"And because he loved your fathers and chose their OFFSPRING after them and brought YOU out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for AN INHERITANCE, as it is this day, know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other." Deuteronomy 4:37-39

"Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous AS THE STARS AS HEAVEN." Deuteronomy 10:22

"But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person." 2 Samuel 17:11

"Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy." 1 Kings 4:20

"And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. You multiplied their children AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness." Nehemiah 9:22-25

Furthermore, Malik thinks that by appealing to the rights of the firstborn in Deut. 21:15-17 he will somehow prove his case that Ishmael is the true heir of the promises made to Abraham since he is the firstborn son.

Malik fails to consider that it wasn’t Abraham who chose Isaac, but God who chose him. God is not obligated to follow the laws of the firstborn since he freely and sovereignly can, and often does, choose the younger/youngest son as the following examples show:

A. Seth appointed over Cain, Adam’s firstborn son:

"And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’" Genesis 4:25

"This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth." Genesis 5:1-3

B. Jacob chosen above Esau, Isaac’s firstborn:

"And the LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.’" Genesis 25:23

"‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is not Esau Jacob's brother?’ declares the LORD. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.’" Malachi 1:2-3

C. Joseph appointed in place of Jacob’s firstborn son Reuben:

"The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, so that he could not be enrolled as the oldest son; though Judah became strong among his brothers and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph), the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi." 1 Chronicles 5:1-3

D. Joseph's younger son Ephraim to precede the firstborn in status:

"Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn) ... When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.’ But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.’ So he blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, "God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh."’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh." Genesis 48:12-14, 17-20

E. David, Jesse’s youngest son, chosen by God to be king:

"When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.’ But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, ‘Neither has the LORD chosen this one.’ Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, ‘Neither has the LORD chosen this one.’ And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The LORD has not chosen these.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.’ And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah." 1 Samuel 16:6-13

F. Solomon chosen over the firstborn to replace David:

"Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me from all my father's house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father's house, and among my father's sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.’" 1 Chronicles 28:4-6

"Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king in place of David his father. And he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. And the LORD made Solomon very great in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel." 1 Chronicles 29:23-25

The Quran agrees:

"We gave knowledge to David and Solomon: And they both said: ‘Praise be to Allah, Who has favored us above many of His servants who believe!’ AND SOLOMON WAS DAVID'S HEIR. He said: ‘O ye people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and we have been given of every thing: this is indeed Grace manifest (from Allah.)’" S. 27:15-16

As one can see God often chooses the younger child over the firstborn, which is the very thing God did with Ishmael and Isaac. In light of the preceding statements it is quite evident that the promises to Ishmael did not include God’s covenant promises and has nothing to do with Muhammad’s religion whatsoever.

This concludes this part. As the Lord Jesus permits we will be following this up with additional responses to the rest of Mr. Malik’s claims.

Sam Shamoun

Responses to Hamza Abdul Malik
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page