The missionary Sam Shamoun has claimed that there is a discrepency in the traditions of Ishmael(P) being the ancestor of the Arabs and hence he(P) cannot be the father of Muhammad(P), as per the record of Muslim traditions. We aim to respond to this latest missionary polemic and at the same time we would like to address the abuse of this missionary’s citation from the translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, insha’allah.
Refutation to the Hypothesis
The missionary would like us to believe that the Arabs have no ancestral link to the Prophet Abraham(P) and his son, Ishmael(P). The reality is that scientists today have found a genetic link between the Arabs and the Jews, and hence this verifies the traditions that informs us that the Semitic people share a common ancestor. We read that:
…They found that grouping Jews and Arabs together – both are Semites – is based on genetic and well as historical and linguistic reality.1
This is further confirmed when in the Journal of Babylonian ExilArch, we are told that:
Jews and Arabs are extremely closely related, a new genetic survey has shown.
Wherever in the world they now live, Jewish men carry the same Y chromosome as Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.
“Jews and Arabs are all really children of Abraham and all have preserved their Middle Eastern genetic roots over 4,000 years,” said one of the scientists involved. Harry Ostrer, director of the Human Genetics Programme at New York University School of Medicine. The team analysed regions of the Y chromosome in 1,371 men from 29 populations worldwide. The Y chromosome passes largely unchanged down the male line.
The results, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the difference between Jewish and Arab populations is extremely small, considerably smaller than that between North and South African populations, for example. The study confirms that both Arabs and Jews owe their genes to a common ancestor population that predated the Jewish religion.2
Hence it is clear that modern scientific research conducted today has shown that the Arabs and the Jews are the descendants of Abraham(P) and hence we find it ludicrous to see the missionary denying this scientific evidence.
The missionary had constantly relied on a spurious quote from one W. Aliyyuddin Shareef, whereby it is claimed that the pre-Islamic Arabs do not recognise Ishmael(P) as the Father of the Arabs. On the contrary, a study of pre-Islamic poetry and Arab genealogical records provides one with convincing evidence that Ishmael(P) is indeed recognised as the Father of the Arabs.
For instance a pre-Islamic poet `Umaiya b. Abi as-Salt3 wrote a long ode in which he talks about Abraham(P) and his love for his “first-born”, i.e. Ishmael(P). One of his verses is:
- Bakrahu lam yakun laiyasbar unh aw yurahu fi ma’sher al-aqtaal
(The sacrifice) of his first-born of whose separation he (Abraham) could not bear neither could he see him surrounded in foes.
Here, this pre-Islamic Arab poet clearly points to Ishmael(P) as the first-born of Abraham(P) and to his sacrifice.
Likewise to further strengthen our point, here is what A. J. Wensinck has to say in this regard:
Ishma’il is also considered the ancestor of the North Arabian tribes. In the Arab genealogies, the Arabs are divided into three groups: al-Ba’ida (those who have disappeared), al-`ariba (the indigenous) and al-musta’riba (the arabicised). Ishma’il is considered the progenitor of the last group, whose ancestor is Adnan.4
Further, we also read the following citation from Gesenius:
The missionary has kindly provided us with the genealogy of the Prophet Muhammad(P) in his article. We reproduce it here to facilitate easier elucidation of the matter.
- 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)
Thus, it is clear that even within the Jewish traditions, Kedar, the son of Ishmael(P) and the father of `Adnan is exclusively linked to the Arabs. Indeed, until this very day, Muslims recite the following prayer in worship, as follows:
O Allah! Send Your Mercy on Muhammad and on his family [wives and his offspring], as You sent Your Mercy on Abraham’s family; and send Your Blessings on Muhammad and his family , as You sent Your Blessings on Abraham’s family, in the world, for You are the Most Praise-worthy, the Most Glorious. 6
Needless to mention, we suspect that it is probably the missionary’s inherent jealousy of how Muslims honour the Prophet Abraham(P) and his family which has probably spurred his perjurious claim in the first place!
Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah: Use and Abuse of Evidence
The missionary, as it is frequent throughout his writings, has again appealed to A. Guilaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, specifically, the outline of the genealogy7. In the near future, we aim to record the number of the misuse and abuse of this work by the missionary.
In the meantime, however, let us address this specific claim of this missionary regarding the genealogical sources.
His allegation is that:
- There are several problems with these genealogies. The first problem is the time span.
He then proceeds to cite from an atheist source, which is an inherent disease in the missionary agenda. The problem with citing this source is that if this system is effectively applied to the missionary’s own Bible, his Bible will also fall under examination. This is because if his source’s point is valid, it deals a much more heavier blow to Christianity than it does to Islam.
The criticism he quoted from the atheist source fits just as easily on the Biblical account as well, so if he agrees with his source, he would have to agree with the absurdity of his own Bible. The dating system is still very much the same.
In other words, if the source that the missionary Shamoun cites is correct, then the genealogies as they stand now are fabrications, so Muslims would have to throw out a couple of hadith from the 2nd century A.H., in favor of revised genealogies that put more people between Abraham(P) and Muhammad(P) and Abraham(P) and Adam(P).
The Christians, however, would have to throw out passages from their “inspired” Bible that deal with genealogies8. So in effect, if Shamoun’s source is correct, we would need to conclude that:
- the writings of Ibn Ishaq are not infallible, and;
- the Bible is not infallible.
This is a position that Muslims have already taken, but it is one that the Christian missionaries, most especially the missionary Sam Shamoun, might want to think twice about!
We have shown that the missionary claim is, at best, speculative. Modern scientific research has shown that Jews and Arabs share the same genes, and therefore hail from the same common ancestor.
Moreover, we have seen how the missionary has distorted the Islamic traditions, and we have seen his attempts to appeal to an atheistic source that badly backfires on him. “Truth is clear from error”, as the Qur’an has said, and we are grateful to the missionary for the demonstration of these very words!
And only God knows best.
The Christian missionary made a feeble attempt to reply to our observations above, which in our opinion has glossed over our major points. A short comment on that missionary attempt can be seen in Further Comments On “Ishmael Is Not The Father Of Muhammad” Revisited.
- ABCNews, Jews, Arabs are brothers,
genetic study shows[Online Document] [⤺]
- The Times (9 May 2000), Jews and Arabs United by Genes, The Journal of Babylonian ExilArch [Online Document] [⤺]
- cf. F. Sezgin: “GAS”, Band ii, seite 298-300, Leiden 1975 [⤺]
- “Isma’il” in Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed., Leiden 1954 [⤺]
- H. W. F. Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, p. 724 [⤺]
- al-Hafiz Imam Ibnu Hajar al-‘Asqalaniy, Kitab Bulughul Maram, hadith no. 336 [⤺]
- A. Guilaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah (Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 3-4 [⤺]
- Various passages in the book of Genesis, Chronicles and Luke that deal with genealogies. [⤺]