Sign 3 of Ibrahim: Sacrifice

The great prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) had been promised a son in the previous Sign. And Allah had kept his promise. In fact the Taurat continues the account of Ibrahim (PBUH) to describe how he got two sons. In Genesis 16 the Taurat tells how he got his son Ishmael with Hagar and then later Genesis 21 tells how he got his son Isaac with Sarai about 14 years later. Unfortunately for his household, this resulted in a great rivalry between the two women, Hagar and Sarai, and ended with Ibrahim sending Hagar and her son away. You can read here how this happened and how Allah blessed Hagar and Ishmael in another way.

The sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim: Basis for Eid al-adha

So with only one son left in his household Ibrahim (PBUH) encounters his greatest test but it is one that opens for us a greater understanding of the Straight Way. Please read the account from Taurat and Qur’an concerning the test of the sacrifice of his son here.  This story from the Books is the reason why the Eid al-adha is celebrated.  But this is not just a historical event.  It is more.

We can see from the account in the Books that this is a test for Ibrahim (PBUH), but it is more than just that. Since Ibrahim is a prophet this test is also a sign for us, so we could learn more about God’s care for us. In what way is this a sign? Please note the name that Ibrahim gave to the place where his son was to be sacrificed. This part of the Taurat is shown here so you can read it directly.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The LORD Will Provide’. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:13-14)

Allah had provided a ram so that his son would not have to be sacrificed.  But notice the name that Ibrahim (‘Abraham’ in the Taurat) gave to that place. He named it ‘The LORD will provide’. Is that name in the past tense, present tense or future tense? It is clearly in the future tense. And to be even more clear the comment which follows (which Musa – PBUH – inserted when he compiled this account into the Taurat about 500 years later) it repeats “…it will be provided”. Again this is in the future tense and looking to the future. Most people think that Ibrahim is referring to the ram (a male sheep) which was caught in the thicket and was sacrificed in place of his son. But when Ibrahim names the place the ram is already dead, sacrificed and burnt. If Ibrahim is thinking of the ram – already dead, sacrificed and burnt – he would have named it ‘The LORD has provided’, i.e. in the past tense. And Musa (pbuh), if he was thinking of the ram that took the place of Ibrahim’s son would have commented ‘And to this day it is said “On the mountain of the LORD it was provided”’. But both Ibrahim and Musa clearly give it a name in future tense and therefore are not thinking of the already dead and sacrificed ram.

So what are they thinking about then? If we look for a clue we see that the place where Allah told Ibrahim to go at the beginning of this Sign was:

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (v.2)

This happened in ‘Moriah’. And where is that? Though it was a wilderness area in Ibrahim’s day (2000 BC), a thousand years later (1000 BC) the famous King Dawood (David) established the city of Jerusalem there, and his son Suleiman (Solomon) built the Temple there. We read in the Zabur about this that:

Then Solomon (Suleiman) began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David (Dawood) 2Chronicles 3:1

In other words, ‘Mount Moriah’ in the time of Ibrahim (and later Musa) was an isolated mountain top in the wilderness but 1000 years later with Dawood and Suleiman it became Jerusalem (Al Quds), the central and capital city of the Israelites where they built the Temple to the LORD. And to this very day it is a holy place for the Jewish people.

Isa al Masih and the sacrifice on Mount Moriah

And here we find a direct connection to Isa al Masih (PBUH) and the Injil. We see this connection when we know about one of the titles of Isa. Isa had many titles given to him. Perhaps the most well-known is the title ‘Masih’ (which is also ‘Christ’). But there is another title given to him that is very important. We see this in the Injil when the prophet Yahya (John the Baptist in the Injil) says:

The next day John (i.e. Yahya) saw Jesus (i.e. Isa) coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I meant when I said ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’”. (John 1:29-30)

An important, but lesser known title of Isa (PBUH), given to him by Yahya was ‘The Lamb of God”. Now consider the end of Isa’s life. Where was he arrested and sentenced for execution?  It was in Jerusalem (which as we saw is the same as ‘Mount Moriah’). It is very clear stated during his arrest that:

When he [Pilate] learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at the time.’ (Luke 23:7)

In other words, the arrest, trial and sentencing of Isa happened in Jerusalem (= Mount Moriah).

Back to Ibrahim. Why did he name that place in the future tense ‘The LORD will provide’? He was a prophet and knew that something would be ‘provided’ there. When he is tested, the son of Ibrahim is saved from death at the last moment because a lamb dies in his place. Two thousand years later, Isa is called ‘Lamb of God’ and is arrested and sentenced to death on the same spot!

The Sacrifice ransomed Ibrahim: from death

Is this important to us? I note how this sign of Ibrahim ends. In ayah 107 from the Qur’an it says of Ibrahim (PBUH) that

And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice

What does it mean to be ‘ransomed’?  To pay a ransom is to make a payment for someone who is held as a prisoner to set the prisoner free.  For Ibrahim (PBUH) to be ‘ransomed’ means that he was a prisoner of something (Yes even a great prophet!).  What was he a prisoner of?  The scene with his son tells us.  He was a prisoner of death.  Even though he was a prophet, death held him as a prisoner.  We saw from the Sign of Adam that Allah had made Adam and his Children (everyone – including the prophets) mortal – they were now prisoners of death.  But somehow in this drama of the sacrificed lamb Ibrahim (PBUH) was ‘ransomed’ from this.  If you review the sequence of signs (Adam, Cain&Abel, Noah, Ibrahim 1) thus far you will see that animal sacrifice was almost always practiced by the prophets.  They knew something about this that maybe escapes us.  And we can see that because this act also points forward into the future to Isa ‘the Lamb of God’ that it has something to do with him.

The Sacrifice: A Blessing for us

And the sacrifice of the lamb on Mount Moriah is important for us as well.  At the end of the exchange Allah declares to Ibrahim that

“…and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me” (Genesis 22:18)

If you belong to one of the ‘nations on earth’ (and you do!) this has to concern you because the promise is that you then can get a ‘blessing’ from Allah himself! Is that not worthwhile?! How does this connection of Ibrahim’s story with Isa make a blessing to us? And why? We note that Ibrahim (PBUH) was ‘ransomed’ and this is a clue for us, but apart from that the answer is not readily apparent here so we will continue with the Signs of Musa (he has two) and they will clarify these questions for us.

But here I just want to point out that the word ‘offspring’ here is in the singular. It is not ‘offsprings’ as in many descendants or peoples. The promise of a blessing was through an ‘offspring’ from Ibrahim in the singular – singular as in a ‘he’, not through many people or a group of people as in ‘they’.  The Passover Sign of Musa will now help us understand further.

22 thoughts on “Sign 3 of Ibrahim: Sacrifice

  1. hi,I am interested on this topic.Furthermore,as a muslim we believe in sacrifice of our prophet Ibrahim(pbuh). Allah accepted his sacrifice and send one sheep instead of his son.Which is a great milestone of sacrifice to Allah.As we are a followers of our prophet ,So every year we sacrifice animals(i.e which animal is hallall and which has four legs)as a symbol of sacrifice towards Allah.
    Nafisa

  2. well acording to Islamic view it is ismael the promise was made because if you read the bible very well you see that their is a history distortion 1ismael was a legitimate son of Abraham because when Abraham was challenging God of no having children and he decide to adorpt the children of is slave but God told him that his son will be only from his body genesis15v4. 2in genesis16v3acording to king James version sarai gave hagar has wife but the writters of new revise version they said hagar was a concubine so to establish that hagar was not a legitimate wife and ismael too will be illegitimate son of Abraham but the book of 1 chronicle make us to know that ismael is a legitimate son of Abraham because a legitimate child is name after their father and illegitimate child is named after is mother and ketura was the only woman named along side with her children in chronicle 28&32 . 3 in genesis 17 we learnt that ismael was 14 when Isaac was born but but in genesis 21 the picture of ismael we saw is not of that age is a picture of a child who is not older than maximum 2 year so you can see that out of envy the Jew turn the story so that Isaac will be seen has the one God is talking about because if ismael is legitimate son of Abraham the the covenant is establish with ismael not Isaac . about sacrifice we Muslim do not consider blood to be atone for sin as you Christian believe you Christians believe that in the past that God acept animal sacrifice for forgiveness of sin that is why Jesus came to replace the blood sacrifice with his own blood hebrew9v19@22 leviticus17v11 but we Muslims did not believe in this even the eid aldah which we celebrate did not have anything similar to this and no verse in the bible tell us that Abraham offer sacrifice for atonement of sin or noah and the children of Adam depite all the offering sacrifice been commanded in the book of leviticus the book of jeremiah7 v21&27book of amos and the book of psalm50v9&15 denied all the blood sacrifice which was attributed to God in amos God said for 40 years i have taking you out of Egypt i did not command thee to offer me blood sacrifice so if God did not command any blood sacrifice then of which relevant will Jesus death on the cross will be simply hoax of history

    • Hi Alawu
      Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely correct in that Ishmael was a legitimate son of Ibraham (PBUH). The Taurat affirms this. The translation of ‘Wife’ or ‘concubine’ is not an issue in this case. Concubines were considered as wives in that culture. If you look in my article about what the Taurat tells us about Ishmael, you will see that the Taurat affirms Ishmael is a legitimate son of Abraham. In Genesis 21, Ishmael is about 14 years of age and the account of his crying at almost dieing of thirst in the desert is consistent with what a teenage boy would do. He is not crying over any problem, but the fact that he has lost his father and may die of thirst. So there is no reason to suspect a corruption of this passage based on the narrative. The issue though is whether Abraham sacrificed Isaac or not. I know there is some controversy over this but you can read my article on this question here.
      The point of this article on the Sign of Ibrahim is not to debate merits or not of blood sacrifice. The point is that 1) there was a sacrifice intended but at the last minute a ram substituted for the son 2) After this happened Ibrahim (PBUH) named that spot in future tense “The LORD will provide” 3) Jesus (or Isa – PBUH) 2000 years later was crucified in the same spot 4) Jesus (or Isa – PBUH) was called ‘Lamb of God’ by the prophet Yahya (pbuh). The Israelites did have blood sacrifices and as you point out in your references they did NOT provide in and of themselves. They were pointers to the great sacrifice.

      • if you want to know the truth about your bible, I
        suggest you read at least the chapter genesis. after reading it pls let us know according to you who wrote the chapter genesis. or who is the story teller?. who is the witness of this event ?, Was it god, or if not to whom it was told ?, for what purpose it was written ?.( what is it trying to tell you and why, ? was it the word of god ? as you believe it is. also find out the same thing about below quotation :
        your own quotation
        “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The LORD Will Provide’. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:13-14)”

        • I am sorry, but I honestly do not know what you are getting at here. Perhaps I am confused about your statement ‘read chapter Genesis’ when Genesis is really a book with many chapters. Are you concerned about this chapter (22) in terms of who wrote it? I guess I will answer that question and sorry if you meant something else. Genesis is part of Taurat. Taurat was written by prophet Musa pbuh but the events of Genesis occurred before prophet Musa pbuh lived. (other books of Taurat are during life of Musa pbuh). So how could Musa be an author of events that come before him? Scholars have explained this in 2 steps. The sections of Genesis were written by the person whom the events describe. These sections are clearly demarked in the text with the phrase “This is the account of ….” Abraham starts his recording in Genesis 11

          His recording ends when his sons Ishmael and Isaac start there sections in Genesis 25. Ishamel starts like this

          25: 12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.

          Isaac starts his section with

          25:19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

          So Chapter 25 is the end of Abraham’s written account. It started in chapter 11 with

          27 This is the account of Terah’s family line.

          Terah was the father of Abraham and you can see that the text describes Abraham and his brothers and then continues on until CHapter 25 with Abraham’s story which (as I pointed above) is picked up by Ishmael and Isaac.

          So different sections of Genesis are written by the specific prophet whose events it describes. This is the first step
          The second step is the prophet Musa pbuh then took these sections and put them together in one book. This is the book of Genesis, the first book of Taurat. Long answer to now summarize… Genesis 22 and the events there are recorded by prophet Ibrahim pbuh

          • i am sorry if i create a confusion to you i should have said at least one of the chapter in genesis.

            actually you may read what ever book in your bible, which ever chapters.,but simply ask yourself those question ,who wrote the book ?. it is narated like a story book or a history book, whom you never know the writer who witness the even. if you want to know at least you have to ask those kind of questions, if you simply follow it with your faith, than ask your self why did god gave you intellectuals in the first place. if you are not allowed to use it. no matter how you believe why you got it in the first place, but use it anyway.
            this part of old testament mostly come from talmud not torah mentioned in quran.

  3. very interesting brother…infact i dont suppose even an islamic scholar has gotten insights like yours…. but i noted that you did not correct that it was Ibrahim’s first born that was to be sacrificed… Ismaail… not Isaac..

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