Are the Arabs the Descendants of Abraham?
Dr. Robert Morey
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:
has its own version of prehistoric times, but it is entirely legendary.
Another source, A Dictionary of Islam, calls
the Arab version of Ishmael’s history a “great deal of romance.”
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.
And the 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.
Ishmael and his descendants were included in the covenant God made
Since the Abrahamic covenant included the land of Israel, the Arabs
have a legitimate claim to it.
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
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,
And they settled
from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria.
This broad area is the desert section East of Egypt
in Northern Arabia toward the kingdom of the Assyrians.
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.”
Arabia 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
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 with Abraham.
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
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
All Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael;
Mohammed went to Jerusalem.
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
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
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 Jews.