Abraham's Legacy

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are referred to as the "Abrahamic religions" because of the role Abraham plays in their holy books and beliefs. Both Judaism and Islam credit Abraham with being the first monotheist. Living in a polytheistic culture, Abraham had the revolutionary insight that there is only one God, the Creator of the universe.

Abraham in Judaism

Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish nation. He w as its first patriarch, father of Isaac and grandfather of Jacob, who was the father of the Twelve Tribes. God promised the land of Israel to Abraham's children. This promise is the basis for the Jewish claim to Israel. Abraham was the first to know God personally, and through him God instituted many regulations for Jewish family life, including circumcision.

Rabbinical tradition is rich with tales about Abraham. God "tested" Abraham with ten tests, the greatest being his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Jewish tradition ascribes a special trait to each patriarch and Abraham's was kindness. Therefore, Judaism considers kindness to be an inherent Jewish trait.

Abraham's journeys through the land of Canaan marked out the territory that would later become the land of Israel.

Abraham in Christianity

In the New Testament, Abraham is mentioned prominently as a man of faith and the root of the spiritual lineage that is open to all people of faith.

Jesus uses the example of Abraham to support his belief in the resurrection of the dead and the abiding life of the righteous in heaven.

In Christian belief, Abraham is a model of faith, and his intention to obey God to sacrifice Isaac is seen as a foreshadowing of God's offering of his son, Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman Catholic Church calls Abraham "our father in Faith," in the mass prayer.

Abraham in Islam

Abraham (called Ibrahim) is important to Islam, both as a prophet himself and as the father of the prophet Ismail (Ishmael). Abraham is commonly termed Khalil Ullah, “Friend of God.” While most Muslims believe that Adam was the first Muslim, they agree that Abraham was a model of faith in Allah.

Many Muslims recite daily prayers that ask God to bless both Abraham and Muhammad. In the Qur'an, Abraham is the spiritual father of all believers and the first to submit to God.

Traditionally, most Muslims believe that it was Ismail rather than Isaac whom Abraham was told to sacrifice. The Qur'an does not say that it was God who told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Many Muslims affirm that God would not order Abraham to commit what he prohibited—human sacrifice—even as a test. Abraham established the Ka'bah in Mecca as a holy sanctuary.

The entire episode is regarded as a trial from God. It is celebrated by Muslims on the day of Eid ul-Adha.

Source: Abraham's Legacy
New World Encyclopedia, CC-BY-SA 3.0

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