6.8: Legitimacy of Hagar and
Ishmael (Part 1)
Many Christians and Jews mistakenly believe that
Abraham's descendants through Ishmael (Muhammad and his
ancestors, as seen in Fig. 3) were excluded from God's
covenant with Abraham (pbuh) because Ishmael's mother,
Hagar, was not a legitimate wife of Abraham, thus, her son
Ishmael (the father of the Arabs) was not a legitimate son
of Abraham. Therefore, they conclude that Ishmael(pbuh) and
his descendants were not included in God's covenant with the
sons of Abraham (pbuh) and that this covenant was exclusive
to Abraham's second son, Isaac, the father of the Jews.
In what follows we will disprove each of these claims, in
addition to showing evidence of human tampering with the
text of the Biblical verses.
The story of Ishmael according to the Bible is as
follows: Abraham married Sarah (pbut). Sarah was a barren
woman and bore him no children (Genesis 16:1). God then made
a great promise to Abraham even before any children were
born to him.
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will
bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a
blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse
him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the
earth be blessed."
Not long after, Sarah gave Abraham her handmaid, Hagar,
to be his wife according to the legal Jewish custom of
polygamous marriages (customary in the Bible among
Israelites and many of their prophets).
"And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the
Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of
Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his
Fig. 3 Arabs and Jews. Semitic "brethren."
In Genesis 16 we are told that after Hagar (pbuh) became
pregnant with Ishmael, Sarah (pbuh) felt that Hagar despised
her, so she dealt with her harshly until she was forced to
escape from this harsh treatment
"And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from
The angel of God then appeared before Hagar and told her
to return to Sarah and submit herself to her will and that
"the Lord has heard thy affliction" and would reward
her with a son called "Ishmael" (God hears) and would
multiply her seed exceedingly. Hagar willingly bowed to the
command of her Lord and returned and submitted herself to
Sarah. In A Dictionary of Biblical tradition in English
literature, we read:
"The Jewish Haggadah identifies Ishmael as one of the
six men who were given a name by God before their birth
(Ginzberg, LJ 1.239)."