Thursday, November 22, 2012

Abraham sacrifice of his only son


Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual (ritual killing). Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practiced in various cultures throughout history. Victims were typically ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease gods, spirits or the deceased, for example as a propitiatory offering, or as a retainer sacrifice when the King's servants are killed in order for them to continue to serve their master in the next life.

Sacrifice in Islam

An animal sacrifice in Arabic is called abia or Qurban. The term may have roots from the Jewish term Korban; in some places such as in Pakistan, qurbani is always used for Islamic animal sacrifice. In the Islamic context, an animal sacrifice referred to as abiha meaning "sacrifice as a ritual" is offered only in Eid ul-Adha. The sacrificial animal may be a lamb, a sheep, a goat, a camel, or a cow. The animal must be healthy and conscious. “Therefore to the Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice. "(Surat Al-Kawthar) Quran, 108.2 Qurban is an Islamic prescription for the affluent to share their good fortune with the needy in the community. On the occasion of Eid ul Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), affluent Muslims all over the world perform the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) by sacrificing a cow or sheep. The meat is then divided into three equal parts. One part is retained by the person who performs the sacrifice. The second is given to his relatives. The third part is distributed to the poor. The Qur'an states that the sacrifice has nothing to do with the blood and gore (Qur'an 22:37: "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches God. It is your piety that reaches Him..."). Qurban is done to help the poor and in remembrance of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael over a dream he had which he thought he had to fulfill.

Abraham offer his son for sacrifice

While many thought that it was God that command Abraham to sacrifice his only son Ismael, the evidences from the Quran strongly rejected this view as false since the Qur'an strongly condemns human sacrifice as well as killing of own children as a "grave error and sinful act" as stated in the following verses:

Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin. (Surah 17:31)

Lost are those who slay their children, from folly, without knowledge, and forbid food which Allah hath provided for them, inventing (lies) against Allah. They have indeed gone astray and heeded no guidance. (Surah 6:140)

In the Quran any good comes from God and God commanded what is good for us and whatever we do of any evil deed comes from our own soul and thus there is no such command to do evil coming from God as stated in the following verse:

Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from Allah; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) soul. And We have sent thee as a messenger to (instruct) mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness. (Surah 4:79)

When they do aught that is shameful, they say: "We found our fathers doing so"; and "Allah commanded us thus": Say: "Nay, Allah never commands what is shameful: do ye say of Allah what ye know not?" (Surah 7:28)

So in the case of Abraham he misinterpreted his dream when he offer his son to be sacrificed  that he thought comes from God and he ask the opinion to his child what he should do. The son was obviously willing to submit to his father to do what he thinks fit as described by the following verse of the Quran:

Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practicing patience and constancy!" (Surah 37:102)

However when Abraham was to manifest his dream to sacrifice his son God rescue him from doing the criminal act by substituting instead with an animal sacrifice: 

So when they had both submitted their wills, and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him "O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial- And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:
(Surah 37:103-107)

God saved Abraham from committing this error because he was a good man and he is an example for future generation as a model who worship none but Allah:

For Abraham was, without doubt, forbearing (of faults), compassionate, and given to look to Allah. (Surah 11:75)

There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: "We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides Allah: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever, unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone": But not when Abraham said to his father: "I will pray for forgiveness for thee, though I have no power (to get) aught on thy behalf from Allah." (They prayed): "Our Lord! in Thee do we trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance: to Thee is (our) Final Goal. (Surah 60:4)

The Abraham sacrifice story from the Hadith Tradition

The story from the hadith contradict the true attributes of God in the Quran portraying God commanding evil while portraying Shaytan or the Devil trying to influence Abraham to be upright not to commit the criminal act.

Ismael was still a small boy when Ibrahim (as) had a dream or vision. In this dream he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his son. When a prophet has a dream it is always true. In fact, a prophet’s dream is actually a form of revelation. This dream occurred several times and Ibrahim (as) decided that he would take his beloved son, Ismael and would sacrifice him to Allah. as the Qu'ran narrates, Ismael agreed that Ibrahim (as) should carry out the command of Allah.

The Qu'ran states: Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I have seen in a vision that I offer you in sacrifice: what is your view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as you are commanded: you will find me, if Allah so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!"

Both Ibrahim (as) and Ismael travelled to the place of sacrifice. However, on the way, the shaytan appeared three times and tried to persuade Ibrahim (as) not to carry out the command of Allah. The shaytan tried to deceive Ibrahim (as) by reminding him how much he loved his son. Ibrahim (as) was a prophet and he knew that the love of Allah comes before the love of his son. Ibrahim (as) also knew that this was the command of Allah so he must carry it out. Each time the Shaytan came to him, Ibrahim (as) threw stones at him and continued with this journey.

Traditions tell us that Ibrahim (as) could not bear to look at his son so he blindfolded himself and carried out the sacrifice. When Ibrahim (as) removed the blindfold, a sheep or ram was in place of his son and Ibrahim (as) knew that the sacrifice had been accepted. On this occasion Ibrahim (as) had proven and passed this great trial from Allah.

The Abraham sacrifice story in the Bible

The Christian Bible recorded a similar story on the sacrifice to that of the hadith or tradition that it was God Who commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son.
According to the Bible the offer for sacrifice is commanded by God and the child to be sacrifice is Isaac considered the first borne as Abraham’s only son although he has an older son with another woman stated below:

And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. (Genesis 16:3)

And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. (Genesis 16:15)

Compared to the Quran it is unusual that God in the Bible is prejudice by making recognition of the second son when there is another first born to Abraham and the Bible seems to portray God as of no different of that of the pagan god hunger for human blood.

And he said, take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. (Genesis 22:2)

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. (Genesis 22:9-10)

At this stage God stopped him from doing this criminal act which He commanded Abraham to do and replaced the son with a ram:

And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.  And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. (Genesis 22:11-13)

However Christian apologists give the following excuses why it is not wrong God gave the order for Abraham to sacrifice his son:

God was not tempting Abraham. God was not enticing Abraham to do wrong, but was testing him to see if he would do what was right. 

God was not instituting or condoning child sacrifice. As seen in Deuteronomy 12:31 and the other passages in the Bible, God abhors child sacrifice. It's important to remember that God prevented the sacrifice from actually occurring. He did not desire the sacrifice as an act of worship or for any other reason beyond testing Abraham.

God was not telling Abraham to do wrong. God has the right to take human life and could therefore authorize Abraham to do so in a particular case. Note that had Abraham decided of his own accord to sacrifice Isaac, he would have been wrong and his act would have been condemned by God (as were other human-initiated sacrifices).

According to them God give this command was for Abraham to demonstrate that he trusted God completely and placed him above all else, even his own son. Though God of course already knew that Abraham had faith in him, it was necessary for Abraham to prove it through action. "His faith was made complete by what he did" (James 2:21-23). Because of his actions, not only God but Abraham, his family and future generations knew that Abraham trusted God. This trust was important because it indicated that Abraham had the proper relationship with God (he was treating God as God deserves to be treated) and could benefit from God's good plans for his life.

Wasn't it wrong for Abraham to obey God?

God's command to Abraham was not wrong, for God has the right to take human life and therefore had the right to command Isaac's death. Abraham had known God for many years prior to this, so he knew God's character and knew that God had the right to give this command. Had Abraham initiated the sacrifice or followed the order of someone who was not authorized by God, then his act would have been wrong.

Furthermore, Abraham knew that God had promised him offspring through Isaac, so this gave him reason to believe that God did not intend for Isaac to die permanently:

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death:

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
(Hebrews 11:17-19)

Contradictions is no excuse

The above excuses given by Christian apologists can be labeled as contradictions in the Bible. It is an unlikely case if God is good he command something bad or evil. Evil command does not come from God, only good comes from Him otherwise it creates contradictions on His attributes of only being good as confirmed by the following verses of the Quran:

To the righteous (when) it is said, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say, "All that is good." To those who do good there is good in this world and the Home of the Hereafter is even better and excellent indeed is the Home of the righteous. (Surah 16:30)

It will be a glaring contradiction in the Divine Book if one part God command not to kill the children but on another He commanded Abraham to slaughter his only son, it is surely a falsehood invented:

O Prophet! When believing women come to thee to take the oath of fealty to thee, that they will not associate in worship any other thing whatever with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit adultery (or fornication), that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey thee in any just matter, then do thou receive their fealty, and pray to Allah for the forgiveness (of their sins): for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 60:12)

Do they not consider the Qur'an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy. (Surah 4:82)

Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition. (Surah 16:90)