Abraham is a patriarch for Jews, Christians and Muslims. This ancient Jewish leader serves as a father figure, both literally and figuratively, for all three faith traditions. The most vivid story about Abraham comes from the Old Testament and concerns his willingness, when asked by God, to sacrifice his beloved son, although God rescinds the order once Abraham’s obedience is established.
Abraham's son, Isaac, went on to father the nation of Israel, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the progenitor of a great nation. From that nation, of course, came Jesus Christ. Abraham’s older son, Ishmael, begotten on his wife’s handmaid, becomes the father of the Muslims, fulfilling God’s prophecy that Abraham’s seed would be as numerous as stars.
Abraham fills a similar role as a religious forebear, as well as ancestor, for all three religions, and that position stems from his devotion to God. Although Muslims teach that his near-sacrifice was of his older son Ishmael, Christians and Jews believe it was the younger, Isaac. However, all three agree on the point that Abraham was willing to put his trust in God’s command and sacrifice his son. It is significant, John Bowker explains in “The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions,” that Abraham obeys without law – his obedience arises only from God’s verbal instructions and his own innate grace.
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