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Adam, Noah, Abraham (Blue Book)

Adam, Noah, Abraham (Blue Book)

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Matt DaviesThe Holy Qur’anApril 4, 2008
Adam, Noah, and Abraham
Discuss the use of Jewish sacred texts in the Qur’an
There is very little doubt that Muhammad was influenced by Jewish and Christiancommunities that existed in the region where he lived. The phrase “People of the Book”,the Qur’anic description of Jews and Christians, was used to address problems insidethose communities or to criticize their rejection of Allah or even to praise them for “trying” to follow Allah. Muhammad had a tumultuous relationship with the Jewishtribes inside Medina, which influenced the writings and revelations that Muhammad preached. The Jewish stories, which were adopted into the Christian cannon, wereknown inside Mecca due to the city’s key position in the trading routes. Muhammad, being a trader and marrying a prominent trader, would have been in contact with at leastthe basics of the Jewish texts. Jewish mythology shaped a new social religiosity.Muhammad was part of a prominent trading company, due to the influence of hisuncle, Abu Talib. He would have, therefore, known at least the origin stories of variouscultures that passed through Mecca. He would have understood the importance of Abraham to the Jewish community and the adopted significance that it played inside theChristian faith. When Muhammad’s revelations began, he realized that he needed tohave an origin story that was legitimate to the surrounding communities or faiths. Hetherefore adopted a story using Ishmael, the eldest son of Abraham through the slaveHagar. Surah 21 is one of the Surah’s that establishes a connection with Abraham andgives the basis for one of Muhammad’s future quests. The Qur’an and the Bible share
 
Matt DaviesThe Holy Qur’anApril 4, 2008the story that Abraham leaves his parents and the land of Ur and travels to a distant land.The Qur’an puts a reason behind this story. Abraham’s father worshiped idols that were passed down through his ancestors. Abraham told his father that he was clearly in error and smashed all but one of the idols. Abraham realized that worshipping the true Godwas more important than continuing family ties with an unfaithful father. Abraham preached that these gods could not speak and, therefore, could do neither good nor harmto the people. Muhammad found himself in a similar situation while inside Mecca, wheremost scholars attribute Surah 21 to be written. The Ka’bah had 360 idols surrounding itand obviously contradicted Muhammad’s claim for monotheism. Muhammad destroyedthese 360 idols and told the Meccans to worship Allah, the one true God. By relating thisstory to Abraham, Muhammad legitimized a wholly unpopular move and began toestablish a connection to the Jewish and Christian communities.Later in his career, Muhammad moved to Medina, where it is believed that heestablished the idea of the
umma
. The
umma
transcended the typical tribal emphasis andestablished a community of multiple tribes. Admittance into the
umma
did not requirethe correct blood or ancestral line; instead, the
umma
required only belief in Allah andthat Muhammad was his prophet. Surah 11 could have been written during the travelingtime between Mecca and Medina and it established a reason behind the
umma
using the popular figure of Noah. Noah was told to build an ark so that those who believed couldescape the coming of a disastrous flood. Noah was told to take “a pair from everyspecies, your kinsfolk (except for those already doomed), and all the true believers.” Oneof Noah’s sons decided to take his fate into his own hands and take refuge in themountains, where he believed the height of the mountain would save him. When Noah
 
Matt DaviesThe Holy Qur’anApril 4, 2008confronts Allah about the death of his son, Allah responded by saying that “he was nokinsman” of Noah. Salvation does not come from family members or blood relations;salvation only comes from accepting Allah and his prophets and submitting to them.This established a justification for the creation of the
umma
. If the hero Noah had toreject his own son in order to follow Allah, then why wouldn’t the Arab communityentertain the rejection of their family for Allah as well? This validation, playing on the popular figure of Noah, would have been appealing to most communities in the area.Finally, Muhammad finalized his Abrahamic connection during his time inMedina, where most Jewish tribes rejected him. The Jews did not believe that any more prophets were coming to preach from God and believed that Muhammad was a fraud.However, Muhammad still wrote about a revelation that further established hisconnection with Ishmael. Surah 2 reveals that the Ka’bah was created by Abraham andIshmael and was dedicated as the House of Allah. Muhammad could then recount hisdestruction of the idols in the Ka’bah to convince the Jewish tribes that he was trying to protect their God, who was the same as Allah. Although most Jewish tribes discountedhim, some believed that he was a messenger from God/Allah and believed his claim of Arab lineage from Abraham and Ishmael. By appealing to the Jews that he worshippedand spoke from the God of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, and Jacob, he tried to gainlegitimacy. He knew that if he traced back his race through the patriarch of the Jewishfaith, he would be credited among the communities of both Jews and Christians; hegained some converts from both sects.I believe that Muhammad was fully convinced of his lineage back to Ishmael andthat the Arab race, and eventually the Islamic faith, was traced to Abraham’s eldest son.

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