Arts and Cultures - Abraham's Sacrifice in Quran and Comparison with the Bible

Arts and Cultures

Dr Archana Verma

The Quran describes the Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac in very different terms from the Genesis legend. There are some major differences - The son's name does not figure in the Quranic legend of Abraham's sacrifice in chapter 37. In the Genesis, Abraham binds Isaac to the altar, while in the Quran, Ibrahim (Abraham) tells his son that Allah has commanded him to sacrifice him in a dream. Abraham's son willingly accepts this command and says that it is his duty to fulfil Allah's command and he urges his father to sacrifice him. Thus, Ibrahim does not bind his son as he willingly gives himself for the sacrifice. Allah replaces his son with a "great sacrifice."

Quran does not mention the name of the son who was to be sacrificed and does not mention the nature of the replaced sacrifice. 

Further, while Abraham in Genesis does not tell Isaac of his intention to sacrifice him, in Quran Ibrahim tells his son about his dream and asks about his wish. Ibrahim's son willingly gives himself away for the sacrifice.

The terms of the contract with the divine as discussed in the previous post are made even stronger in the Quran. Not only does the father follow Allah's command unquestioningly, but the son also facilitates this by offering himself as the sacrifice. 

Thus, Allah's command is unsurpassable and even one's own life should not be spared to follow the command from Allah.

The legend of Ibrahamic sacrifice of his son Ismail and Allah's replacement of his son with a ram, which is popular among the Muslims today is a much later development in the Islamic society than the time when Quran was being formed, since the name Ismail and the nature of sacrificial replacement are not mentioned in the Quranic version of this legend.

Read more about arts and cultures here

Read global news here

Read Technology Today digital magazine here