Islam is the fulfillment of God’s promise

 According to the Chumash (חומש), Islam is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Ishmael

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

   Chumash is one of the terms used to describe the five books attributed to Moses.  It is derived from the root chamesh which means five. More commonly they are known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. In this brief article we will be using the Stone’s Edition of the Chumash by Rabbi Nosson Scherman which has the main text of the five books together with selected commentaries from Rabbinic writings(in Hebrew and English) most prominent of which is Rabbi Rashi’s who is described as the “Father of Commentators” in the editor’s introduction.

Abraham had two wives(or some say three including Keturah) Sarah and Hagar. His first son born from Hagar(yes, Hagar was his wife!*) was Ishmael whose name means ‘God hears’. It is the Islamic standpoint that it was Ishmael who was actually taken for sacrifice and not the second son born to Sarah whose name was Isaac. Contrary to Islamic belief, Jews and Christians believe that Isaac was the one taken for sacrifice and that it is he alone and his progeny that were bestowed the covenant whilst Ishmael is neglected. Taking the Judeo-Christian perspective in hand don’t you find it interesting that Ishmael carries God’s name whilst Isaac’s does not? Think about it. However, this is not an article on who was taken to be sacrificed. Rather, in this article we shall see that Rabbis recognise the fact that Islam is the fulfillment of God’s promise given to Ishmael who was the firstborn of Abraham.

The promise to Ishmael is seen in the following verse,

“But regarding Ishmael I have heard you: I have blessed him will make him fruitful, and will increase him most exceedingly; he will beget twelve princes and I will make him into a great nation.”(Genesis 17:20)

This promise is repeated several times for Ishmael:

“And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation” (Genesis 21:13)

“Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine [hagar] hand; for I will make him [Ishmael] a great nation.”(Genesis 21:18)

“The angel added,”I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”(Genesis 16:10)

Who among the descendants of Ishmael succeeded in fulfilling this promise in making a great nation that bore multitudes?

“We see from the prophecy in this verse that 2337 years elapsed before the Arabs, Ishmael’s descendants, became a great nation [with the rise of Islam in the 7th century C.E.]…. Throughout this period, Ishmael hoped anxiously, until finally the promise was fulfilled and they dominated the world.” [1]

chumash2

Though the paragraph that precedes the above in the commentary(not produced here) suggests an eventual downfall of the kingdom of the descendants of Ishmael, which I suppose has taken place with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the above makes it explicit that Islam is the fulfillment of God’s promise for Ishmael. If Islam is the fulfillment of God’s promise, then it only follows that it is His decree. If it is His decree, then it only follows that it is the truth especially since the promise is described as a “blessing” from Him. Thus we can safely conclude that because Islam is a direct fulfillment of the promise of God made to Ishmael what logically follows is the truth of Islam.

Addendum:

On a related point, it is interesting to mention that a notable Yemenite Rabbinic figure called Nathanael ibn al-Fayyumi, who was a rosh yeshiva (dean or leader of a Talmudic academy) of Jews in Yemen in the 11th century, regarded Muhammad s.a.w. as an authentic prophet of God. In his Bustan al-Ukul, he writes:

“Know then… nothing prevents God from sending into His world whomsoever He wishes, since the world of holiness sends forth emanations unceasingly… Even before the revelation of the Law he sent prophets to the nations… and again after its revelation nothing prevented Him from sending to them whom He wishes so that the world might not remain without religion… Mohammed was a prophet to them but not those who preceded them in the knowledge of God.” [2]

He believed that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was sent by God as His ‘navi’ (prophet) to the children of Ishmael but limited his dispensation to them. Though he saw Muhammad s.a.w. as God’s prophet to the Arabs, he excluded him as a messenger to the Jewish people, i.e., “those who preceded them in the knowledge of God”.

Interestingly, there is another historical Jewish literature that predates Fayyumi by several hundred years that makes favourable reference to Islam and its prophet. It was composed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and before the rise of the ‘Abbasid caliphate. This excerpt encapsulates what some Jews thought of Islam and its prophet in the early centuries of Islam. The text comes from the apocalyptic tract known as the Nistarot of Rabbi Shim’on bar Yohai:

“When he beheld the kingdom of Ishmael come he began to say, ‘Is not what the wicked kingdom of Esau has done to us sufficient, that the kingdom of Ishmael comes too? The angel Metatron at once answered him, ‘Fear not, O son of man! The Holy one, blessed be He, brings the kingdom of Ishmael only to save you from the wicked one (Rome). He will send a prophet to them and conquer the land [of Israel]…’ And the second king who arises from Ishmael will love [the people of] Israel and conquer all the kingdoms. And he will comes to Jerusalem and he will repair its breaches and the breaches of the Temple and hew out the Mount Moriah and build there a place to bow down at the ‘even ha-shetiya (foundation stone).” [3] (emphasis added)

Notes:

* There are some Christians and Jews out there who perhaps because of their personal distaste of Islam would go so far as to totally reject the fact that Hagar was Abraham’s wife. They would go out of their way to accuse her of illigitimacy and extend that to the fruit of her womb, Ishmael. Was she Abraham’s wife? I have written an article on this. Please proceed to it for clarification.Was Hagar Abraham’s wife according to the Bible?

[1] Rabbi Nosson Scherman (1998). The Chumash. Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. p. 76

[2] Solomon, N. (2006). Muhammad from a Jewish Perspective. In Norman Solomon, Richard Harries & Tim Winter (Eds.), Abraham’s Children: Jews, Christians and Muslims in Conversation. London: T&T Clark. p. 136

[3] Ibid. p. 133

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3 Responses to “Islam is the fulfillment of God’s promise”

  1. KZ says:

    Good article as always, Ibn Anwar.

    Truth cannot be denied.

  2. Truth says:

    Let me ask you why does the Quran tell people to kill others if they leave Islam. Did Jesus ever tell people to do this?

    Also, the Messiah being born and being called “God almight” (Isaiah 9:6) is actually the fulfillment of the word of God (Biblical prophecy). So tell me when God was walking around in the garden with Adam and Eve… how was he walking? Jesus = God

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