Ishmael is not the Father of Muhammad

Sam Shamoun

According to the Holy Bible Ishmael settled in Paran and married an Egyptian from whom he had twelve sons:

"Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.' Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt." Genesis 21:13-21

The Holy Bible locates Paran near Israel (Canaan) and Egypt, south of Judah. John L. McKenzie in his Dictionary of the Bible notes:

Paran (Hb pa'ran, most frequently the name of a desert region). The place name Elparan (Gn 14:6) no doubt is associated with the desert; this place is thought to be identical with Elath* by some scholars. The desert of Paran was the home of the Ishmaelites (Gn 21:21). It was, the itinerary according to P (cf. PENTATEUCH), reached by the Israelites after the desert of Sinai (Nm 10:12), and they camped in this desert for some time (Nm 10:12; 13:3, 26, mission and return of the scouts). In Dt 1:1 Paran is vaguely defined as a place in the desert. Hadad of Edom passed through the desert of Paran on his journey from Midian* to Egypt (1 Kings 11:18). The mountains of Paran are the place from which the theophany* appears (Dt 33:2; Hab. 3:3); like most other names mentioned in the theophanies, Paran reflects the region S of Judah. The desert of Paran is probably that region of the Negeb* which lies S of Kadesh-barnea*. (McKenzie, p. 637)

Compare the following OT passages:

"In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar." Genesis 14:5-7

"On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the Testimony. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. They set out, this first time, at the LORD's command through Moses." Numbers 10:11-13

"So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back. After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran." Numbers 12:15-16

"The LORD said to Moses, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.' So at the LORD's command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites." Numbers 13:1-3

"At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: 'We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.'" Numbers 13:25-27

"These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)" Deuteronomy 1:1-2

Unless Muslims want to claim that Moses and the Israelites traveled from Sinai all the way to Mecca and back during their 40-year desert wandering, it becomes quite evident that Paran is nowhere near Mecca.

Continuing further:

"Now Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him. They buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David got up and went down to the wilderness of Paran." 1 Samuel 25:1

Are we to assume that David went to Mecca after Samuel's death?

"This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death. He said: "The LORD came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes. Deuteronomy 33:1-2

"But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking men from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food. Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage." 1 Kings 11:17-19

"God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth." Habakkuk 3:3

Interestingly, the preceding passages connect Mount Paran with Seir and Teman. Both Seir and Teman are associated with Edom. Here is McKenzie regarding the locations of Seir and Teman:

Seir (Hb se'ir), a geographical name; Seir is associated with Esau* and Edom* and the association is expressed in a play on the words se'ar, "goat," and sa'ir, "hairy," in Gn 25:25; 27:11, 23. The name appears as the designation of a land, of a mountain, and as a gentilic. There is no doubt that the mountain is the chain which extends SW of the Dead Sea along the W side of the Arabah*, rising to an average height of 5000 ft. The name was later extended to the corresponding mountain chain on the E side of the Arabah. As a territorial designation the term is used more loosely of the region adjacent to the mountain chain, substantially identical with the territory of Edom ... Israelite tradition itself recognized that the claim of Edom to Seir and its settlement there were older than its own claim to Canaan. It was the region of Esau the brother of Jacob ... The mountain becomes a loose designation of its inhabitants as "the men of Seir or Mt Seir" (2 Ch 20:10, 22f; 25:11, 14); these must be the Edomites ... (McKenzie, pp. 783-784)

Teman (Hb teman, "the south"), a place name; a region of Edom (Je 49:7; Ezk 25:13; Am 1:12; Ob 9) mentioned with Dedan* (Ezk 25:13), famous for its wise men (Je 49:7), the place from which Yahweh appears (Hab 3:3; mentioned with Mt Paran*); genealogically reckoned a descendant of Esau and a son of Eliphaz (Gn 36:11, 15, 42; 1 Ch 1:36, 53). The situation is unknown except that it must be in the territory of Edom. Very frequently in the OT teman is used to signify simply "south" as a point of direction. (McKenzie, p. 872)

J. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, p. 897, states:

TEMAN.- A tribe (district) of Edom.

In light of this, it is little wonder that Hadad of Edom passed through Paran en route to Egypt. It makes no sense for Hadad to travel from Edom to Mecca in order to get to Egypt.

[See also this discussion on the location of Paran in the rebuttal to Al-Kadhi, section 6.4.]

Furthermore, there is no evidence apart from the later Muslim traditions that Ishmael ever married a Jurhumite woman since the Holy Bible indicates that he married an Egyptian. The Holy Bible also tells us where Ishmael's sons settled:

"This is the account of Abraham's son Ishmael, whom Sarah's maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers." Genesis 25:12-18

McKenzie locates Shur around the area of Palestine and Egypt:

Shur (Hb sur), a geographical name which designates the slopes of Palestine and E of Egypt and N of the deserts of the Sinai peninsula. The Hb word suggests sur, "wall", and some geographers have thought that the name alludes to the line of fortresses constructed by the Egyptians to protect the E frontier of Egypt. The region is the scene of the flight of Hagar* in the account of J (Gn 16:7). Abraham dwelt for a time in the Negeb* between Kadesh* and Shur (Gn 20:1). The Israelites traversed the desert of Shur after crossing the Sea of Reeds (Ex 15:22). The area from Havilah* to Shur was the home of the Amalekites* and other nomad tribes (Gn 25:18; 1 S 15:7; 27:8). (McKenzie, pp. 810-811)

This conclusively demonstrates that neither Ishmael nor his twelve sons settled in Mecca. It is claimed that some of the descendents of Ishmael's twelve sons migrated to Arabia. For instance Nebaioth is said to be the father of the Nabateans. The Nabateans flourished in northern Arabia, first establishing their capital in Petra in the 4th century B.C. which was captured by the Romans in 106 B.C. They then moved to Damascus. The Dead Sea Scrolls actually contains Nabatean documents from the later period.

There are two major problems with the above assertion. Even though it may be true that some of Ishmael's descendants settled in Arabia, this does not mean that they necessarily were the fathers of the Arabs. Muslim tradition itself affirms that Ishmael was not the father of the Arabs. Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad states:

Ishmael is the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) b. Tarih (Azar) b. Nahur b. Sarugh b. Rau'u b. Falikh b. 'Aybar b. Shalikh b. Arfakhshadh b. Sam (Shem) b. Nuh (Noah). (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Guillaume, p. 3)

Then we have another line from Noah, where we read:

'Ad b. 'Aus b. Iram b. Sam b. Nuh and Thamud and Jadis the two sons of 'Abir b. Iram b. Sam b. Nuh, and Tasm and 'Imlaq and Umayan the sons of Lawidh b. Sam b. Nuh are all Arabs. Nabit b. Isma'il begat Yashjub and the line runs: Ta'rub-Tayrah-Bahur-Muqawwan-Udad-'Adnan. (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Guillaume, p. 4)

This demonstrates that Arabs existed long before Ishmael was even born since according to this tradition, Ishmael's great-great-great-great...-great uncles were already the Arabs.

Second, the Hadith does not agree with the biblical record at all. The Hadith claims that after settling in Mecca Ishmael married twice, and both of his wives were of Arab descent:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water. So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:

"O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).

When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."

The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, "O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."

The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, "Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, "This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, "Do you allow us to stay with you?' She replied, "Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

After Ishmael's mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael's marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael's wife about him, she replied, "He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, "We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,' complaining to him. He said, "When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).' When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, "Has anyone visited you?' She replied, "Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.' On that Ishmael said, "Did he advise you anything?' She replied, "Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.' Ishmael said, "It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.' So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e. Jurhum).

Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael's wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said, "He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Abraham asked her, "How are you getting on?' asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied, "We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).' Then she thanked Allah' Abraham said, "What kind of food do you eat?' She said. "Meat.' He said, "What do you drink?' She said, "Water.' He said, "O Allah! Bless their meat and water." The Prophet added, "At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it." The Prophet added, "If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca." The Prophet added," Then Abraham said Ishmael's wife, "When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.' When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife, "Did anyone call on you?' She replied, "Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,' so she praised him and added. "He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.' Ishmael asked her, "Did he give you any piece of advice?' She said, "Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.' On that Ishmael said, "It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.'

Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished, and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near Zamzam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father). Abraham said, "O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.' Ishmael said, "Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.' Abraham asked, "Will you help me?' Ishmael said, "I will help you.' Abraham said, Allah has ordered me to build a house here,' pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it." The Prophet added, "Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka'ba). Ishmael brought the stones and Abraham was building, and when the walls became high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham who stood over it and carried on building, while Ishmael was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, "O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.' The Prophet added, "Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka'ba saying: O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (2.127) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583)

This tradition clearly contradicts the biblical data that shows that Ishmael settled in Paran, not Mecca, and married an Egyptian, not an Arab. The above tradition states that Ishmael learnt Arabic from the tribe of (or a family from) Jurhum who settled in Mecca. Since Arabic is not Ishmael's mother tongue, and since Arabic as a language existed before, Ishmael cannot be the ancestor of Arabs. This means that the notion that Ishmael is the progenitor of the Arabs is erroneous. At most, Ishmael can only be called an Arabicized immigrant. The Muslim traditions prove that Ishmael is not the father of all the Arabs.

The Muslim traditions further complicate the problem. We are told:

Ma'n Ibn 'Isa al-Ashja'i al-Qazzaz (silk-merchant) informed us; he said: Mu'awiyah Ibn Salih informed us on the authority of Yahya Ibn Jabir who had seen some Companions of the Prophet and said: The people of Banu Fuhayrah came to the Prophet and said to him: You belong to us. He replied: Verily, (the archangel) Gabriel has informed me that I belong to Mudar. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Volume I, p. 4)

This indicates that Muhammad's genealogy was actually revelatory, not necessarily common knowledge. In fact, the people of Banu Fuhayrah did not know that Muhammad was a descendent of Mudar and Muhammad had to be informed by Gabriel that he was, not through common knowledge. This may form the basis of some hadiths:

Narrated Kulaib:

I was told by the Rabiba (i.e. daughter of the wife of the Prophet) who, I think, was Zainab, that the Prophet forbade the utensils (of wine called) Ad-Dubba, Al-Hantam, Al-Muqaiyar and Al-Muzaffat. I said to her, "Tell me as to which tribe the Prophet belonged; was he from the tribe of Mudar?" She replied, "He belonged to the tribe of Mudar and was from the offspring of An-Nadr bin Kinana." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 698)

Muslims may claim that Muhammad is a descendant of Kedar and therefore a true offspring of Ishmael. Muslim historians traced Muhammad's line to an 'Adnan, an alleged descendant of Ishmael. The following genealogy is taken from T.P Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, p. 217:

Adnan- Ma'add- Nizar- "Ilyas- Mudrikah- Khuzaimah- Kinanah- An-Nazr- Malik- Fihr- Luwaiy- Ka'b- Murrah- Kilab- Qusaiy- "Abdul Manaf- Hashim- Abdul Muttalib- Abdullah- Muhammad.

This other one comes from a Muslim website:

Prophet Muhammad- Abdullah- Abd Al Muttalib- Hashim- Abd Manaf- Qusaiy- Kilab (Ancestor of the Holy Prophet's mother)- Murrah- Ka'b. Lu'ayy- Ghalib- Fihr- Malik- Al Nadr- Kinanah- Khuzaiymah- Mudrikah- Ilyas- Mudar- Nizar- Madd- `Adnan- Adad- Zayd- Yaqdud- Al Muqawwam- Al Yasa'- Nabt- Qaidar (Kedar)- Prophet Ismail (Alaihi Salaam)- Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam)- Tarih- Nahur (Nahor)- Sharukh- Ar'u- Farigh- `Abir- Shalikh- Arfikhishd- Sam (Shem)- Prophet Nuh (Noah) (Alaihi Salaam)- Lamak- Mutawshilkh- Khanukh- Burrah- Mihlayil- Kaynun- Anuus- Shees (Seth) (Alaihi Salaam)- Prophet Adam (Alaihi Salaam). (Source.)

On the mother's side, the above list gives Muhammad - Aminah - Wahab - Abd Manaf - Zuhrah - Kilab, same as the Kilab in Muhammad's side. This reference is derived from Ibn Al Jawzy via Abi Muhammad Ibn Al Samarqandi via `Ali Ibn `Ubayd of Kufa, a companion of Tha'lib Muhammad ibn Abdullah.

The following genealogy is taken from Syed Yusuf:

  1 Abraham Hanifa (AS) was the father of
  2 Isma'il (AS) was the father of
  3 Kedar was the father of
  4 "Adnaan was the father of
  5 Ma'add was the father of
  6 Nizaar was the father of
  7 Mudar was the father of
  8 Ilyaas was the father of
  9 Mudrikah was the father of
10 Khuzaimah was the father of
11 Kinaanah was the father of
12 Al-Nadr was the father of
13 Maalik was the father of
14 Quraysh was the father of
15 Ghaalib was the father of
16 Lu'ayy was the father of
17 Ka'ab was the father of
18 Murrah was the father of
19 Kilaab was the father of
20 Qusayy was the father of
21 "Abd Manaaf was the father of
22 Haashim was the father of
23 "Abdul Muttalib was the father of
24 "Abdullah was the father of
25 Muhammad (SAW)


There are several problems with these genealogies. The first problem is the time span, as noted by the following sources:

"If there are only four generations between Adnan and Ishmael, then the are about 24-25 generations between Muhammad and Abraham spanning about 2500 years. This makes for about one hundred years between generations, which is a bit far-fetched (it is ok if it were for some generations, like Abraham and Ishmael, but very far-fetched if it were to occur regularly. We know that the generations near to Muhammad are pretty normal, not so stretched out, so this makes the other inter-generational gaps even wider). On the other hand, using the data from reference 2, we get about 32-33 generations between Abraham and Muhammad, giving us an inter-generational gap of about seventy-five years. This is still unbelievably high.

It should be said that perhaps, we are faced with incomplete data in that some generations are omitted (the situation is also to be seen in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus where he omitted some names). It could be the same with Muslim genealogical data. On the other hand, if the hadith that there are only four generations between Adnan and Ishmael is literal, then we are faced with a problem. If the hadith is true, then Muslim genealogy is most likely false (it is difficult to imagine so many one hundred years between generations). If the hadith is false, then we have to re-evaluate the accuracy of hadith reports. (Source.; bold emphasis ours)

Commenting on Yusuf's list given above, the authors at FreeThoughtMecca note:

First of all, there are only 24 generations from Abraham to Muhammad, which is quite fantastic. Now, if we grant 30 years to each generation (i.e. make the generous assumption that each male fathered his respective son by age 30), this would place Abraham some time around 150 BCE. The math behind such a conclusion goes as follows:

30 X 24 = 720

Muhammad was allegedly born 570 CE

570 - 720 = -150.

The oldest existing texts to mention Abraham are found among the scrolls from Qumran (so-called "Dead Sea Scrolls"), which date anywhere from the 3rd century BCE to 68 CE. With that in mind it is reasonable to assume that writing already existed on Abraham (as well as numerous later Biblical heroes, such as Isaac, Jacob, Moses, et cetera) at the time the above genealogy places the patriarch. Of course, this is a moot point, as no Muslim would ever try and place Abraham's life around 150 BCE.

The only way out of this would be to take a page from the Judeo-Christian folklore, and start postulating wild scenarios, where patriarchs don't reach puberty until 90, father children at 120, and finally die some time around 200 years of age! Of course that is just plain absurd, and it shows the extent of the silliness found in the "intellectual" religion known as al-Islaam. (source; bold emphasis ours)

Apart from the disparaging remarks regarding the age of some of the Patriarchs, the problem with the Muslim genealogies stands out clearly.

The second problem with these genealogies is that they are written long after Muhammad's rise to fame. In other words, these are not based on pre-Islamic records but records compiled by Muslims after the death of Muhammad. It is not hard to imagine Muslims concocting genealogies around biblical figures in order to legitimize Muhammad's claim to prophethood. Let us point again to this hadith:

Ma'n Ibn 'Isa al-Ashja'i al-Qazzaz (silk-merchant) informed us; he said: Mu'awiyah Ibn Salih informed us on the authority of Yahya Ibn Jabir who had seen some Companions of the Prophet and said: The people of Banu Fuhayrah came to the Prophet and said to him: You belong to us. He replied: Verily, (the archangel) Gabriel has informed me that I belong to Mudar. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Volume I, p. 4)

If this is true, then the genealogy of Muhammad was not known to either himself or his clan. Otherwise he could have appealed to general knowledge and would not have had to appeal to revelation to place himself in a certain descendency. To be a descendant of Ishmael (via Mudar) was a claim that started with Muhammad's own words but without historical evidence even in his life time. In the end, it comes down to nothing but an unsubstantiated claim from Muhammad, ... or from later Muslims who put this into his mouth.

The third problem with these above lists is that they are not even consistent with that given by Ibn Ishaq in his Sirat Rasulullah. Ibn Ishaq, the earliest biographer of Muhammad traces his line to Ishmael through Nabit (Nebaioth), not Kedar. Here is Ibn Ishaq's list:


Abu Muhammad "Abdul Malik ibn Hisham the Grammarian said:

This is the book of the biography of the apostle of God.

Muhammad was the son of "Abdullah, b. "Abdu'l-Muttalib (whose name was Shayba), b. Hashim (whose name was Amr), b. "Abdu Manaf (whose name was al-Mughira), b. Qusayy (whose name was Zayd). B. Kilab, b. Murra, b. Ka'b, b. Lu'ayy, b. Ghalib, b. Fihr, b. Malik, b. al-Nadr, b. Kinana, b. Khuzayma, b. Mudrika (whose name was "Amir), b. Ilyas, b. Mudar, b. Nizar, b. Ma' add, b. "Adnan, b. Udd (or Udad), b. Muqawwam, b. Nahur, b.'Tayrah, b. Ya'rub, b. Yashjub, b. Nabit, b. Isma'il, b. Ibrahim, the friend of the Compassionate, b. Tarih (who is Azar), b. Nahur, b. Sarugh, b. Ra'u, b. Falikh, b. "Aybar, b. Shalikh, b. Arfakhshadh, b. Sam, b. Nuh, b. Lamk, b. Mattushalakh, b. Akhnukh, who is the prophet Idris according to what they allege, but God knows best (he was the first of the sons of Adam to whom prophecy and writing with a pen were given), b. Yard, b. Mahlil, b. Qaynan, b. Yanish, b. Shith, b. Adam.


Isma'il b. Ibrahim begat twelve sons: Nabit the elder, Qaydhar, Adhbul, Mabsha, Misma, Mashi, Dimma, Adhr, Tayma, Yatur, Nabish, Qaydhuma. Their mother was Ra'la d. Mudad b. "Amr al-Jurhumi (II). Jurhum was the son of Yaqtan b. "Aybar b. Shalikh, and [Yaqtan was] Qahtan b. "Aybar b. Shalikh. According to report Isma'il lived 130 years, and when he died he was buried in the sacred precincts of the K'aba besides his mother Hagar (I2). (The Life of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, tenth impression 1995], pp. 3-4; bold emphasis ours)

Ishaq is basically in agreement with the Holy Bible regarding the names and number of sons born to Ishmael. The only difference being is that Ishaq believes that these sons were conceived from Ra'la a Jurhumite.

This leads us to our final problem. The veracity of these records is based primarily on the assumption that Ishmael settled in Mecca and married a Jurhumite woman. Since Ishmael did not settle in Mecca, but in Paran, and married an Egyptian this means that neither Kedar nor Nebaioth could have been the ancestor of the Meccan Arabs.

There are certain Islamic scholars who readily admit this fact. The late Egyptian Professor, Dr. Taha Husayn, considered one of the foremost authorities on Arabic literature, while commenting on the story of Abraham and Ishmael building the Kabah, states:

"The case for this episode is very obvious because it is of recent date and came into vogue just before the rise of Islam. Islam exploited it for religious reasons." (As quoted in Mizan al-Islam by Anwar al-Jundi, p. 170 as found in Behind the Veil, p. 184, source; bold emphasis ours)

Writer Camilla Adang, in a footnote from her book Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible from Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm, mentions:

... Ishmael is considered the progenitor of the Arabs. Dagon (1981) has shown that this idea is an Islamic construction AND THAT NO CONNECTION BETWEEN ISHMAEL AND THE ARABS HAD EVER BEEN MADE IN THE PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD. Already in the first Islamic century, however, Ishmael came to symbolize the Islamic Umma, and biblical passages about Ishmael were taken to refer to Muhammad, the Arabs, or the Muslim community. (Adang, p. 147, fn. 37: E.J. Brill Academic Publishers; August 1997 ISBN: 9004100342; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Former Muslim turned to atheist Ibn Warraq writes:

We are told that [Abraham] was born in Chaldea, and that he was the son of a poor potter who earned his living by making little clay idols. It is scarcely credible that the son of this potter went to Mecca, 300 leagues away in the tropics, by way of impassable deserts. If he was a conqueror he no doubt aimed at the fine country of Assyria; and if he was only a poor man, as he is depicted, he founded no kingdoms in foreign parts. — Voltaire

For the historian, the Arabs are no more the descendents of Ishmael, son of Abraham, than the French are of Francus, son of Hector. — Maxime Rodinson

It is virtually certain that Abraham never reached Mecca. — Montgomery Watt

The essential point ... is that, where objective fact has been established by sound historical methods, it must be accepted. — Montgomery Watt

According to Muslim tradition, Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba, the cube-like structure in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. But outside these traditions there is absolutely no evidence for this claim - whether epigraphic, archaelogical, or documentary. Indeed Snouck Hurgronje has shown that Muhammad invented the story to give his religion an Arabian origin and setting; with this brilliant improvisation Muhammad established the independence of his religion, at the same time incorporating into Islam the Kaaba with all its historical and religious associations for the Arabs. (Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not A Muslim [Prometheus Books, Amherst NY 1995], p. 131; bold emphasis ours)

Finally, Islamicist Alfred Guillaume notes:

"... there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca, and if there had been such a tradition it would have to be explained how all memory of the Old Semitic name Ishmael (which was not in its true Arabian form in Arabian inscriptions and written correctly with an initial consonant Y) came to be lost. The form in the Quran is taken either from Greek or Syriac sources." (Alfred Guillaume, Islam [Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1956], pp. 61-62)

In case Muslims want to claim that the biblical text has been tampered with, it should be pointed out that the Jews would have no reason to distort the location of Paran since there was neither Christians nor Muslims around when these texts were written. Therefore, claiming textual distortion will not solve the problem for the Muslims.

In light of all this confusion, it becomes evident that the biblical data is more precise and accurate since it is much older and closer to these events. Since the Holy Bible indicates that Ishmael never settled in Mecca he therefore cannot be the father of the Arabs that settled there. In other words, Muhammad is not a descendant of Ishmael.

In the service of our great God and Savior, the risen Lord of eternal glory, Jesus Christ. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We love you always.

Additional source material is found in ‘Ishmael Is Not the Father Of Muhammad’ Revisited.

Further articles by Sam Shamoun
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