Abraham: Man Of Faith

  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 1276
  • Grade: 100
Abraham: Man of Faith
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam trace their origin back to the practices of one man named Abraham. Abraham, whose name means "father of many", is regarded as the pioneer of faith and is highly revered by the western faith traditions. Among these religions, Judaism and Christianity share the same account of Abraham's life, while Islam argues a somewhat different version. Unfortunately, neither one can be proven true due to the unavailability of written historical records. The information we have today was passed down orally. Despite the controversy, there are some general beliefs accepted by all three religions. The story of Abraham can be best learned through examining both of the Biblical and Islamic accounts of the following significant aspects of his life: the bare facts, faith towards God, and impact on the western faith traditions.
        "The bare facts of Abraham's life are very quickly told" (Frost 15). According to the historical scholars, Abraham came to existence between 2000 and 1500 BC in the vicinities of Ur in Mesopotamia. He was originally named Abram, which means "exalted father", and he was the son of Terah, a descendant of Shem. From Biblical context, he married his half-sister, Sarai, and became the first patriarch of the Hebrews. While leading a nomadic life, Abram was given a promise of a "great nation" from God. This covenant was renewed as the rite of circumcision was introduced into Abram's household, Sarai's name changed to Sarah, and Abram's name changed to Abraham. Abraham had two sons through two different women. His firstborn, Ishmael, was born through Sarah's Egyptian slave, Hagar, when Abraham was 86, and the latter, Isaac, was born through his wife during his 100th year. Although both sons received God's blessing, the covenant of God continued only with Isaac, whom God asked Abraham to offer as a sacrifice as a test of faith. After the death of Sarah, Abraham obtained a second wife, Keturah, who bore him six sons. Abraham later passed away at the age of 175 and was buried next to Sarah in the cave of Machpelah.                 
        The Islamic tradition maintains a different idea of the bare facts from the Biblical account. According to their account, Abraham's true wife was Hagar. In addition, the Muslims believe that Ishmael was the favored son. Ishmael was the son whom God asked Abraham to sacrifice as a test of faith.
        Abraham "believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). Abraham is revered by faith traditions for his outstanding faith. "It was not easy for him to believe in God" (Frost 19). The world was already full of idolatry. The Biblical view on Abraham's faith is faith made possible because God chose him as the foundation of new humanity after the destructive flood. Abraham listened to God and believed Him despite some of the promises being hard to believe. He was promised "a great nation" when he had no prospect of owning land. Also God spoke him saying "I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son" (Genesis 18:10). His wife was barren, and he was much too old to have children, yet he believed Him. Of course Abraham was not perfect. At times he was quick to inquire God for answers when they did not come right away. Furthermore, he took matters into his own hands, such as taking Hagar as his concubine. Nevertheless, he obeyed God and listened to Him. At Moriah, he was loyal and faithful enough to sacrifice his son, Isaac, instantly at God's request. Due to his faith and willingness to please God, He allowed Isaac to live. He arranged a ram to come forth from a thicket nearby.
        The Islamic Abraham slightly differs from the Biblical Abraham. The Islamic view presents a flawless character, who seems undoubtedly better than the Biblical Abraham. "[It] is seen in the Qur'an as the prototype of the Muslim; it is implied that he arrived at monotheism by pure reason before the revelation came" (Williams 26). The Muslims suggest that Abraham had no humanly faults. In contrast to the Biblical belief, Abraham was never impatient nor did he take matters into his own hands. On the other hand, in accord to the Biblical version of the story, Abraham obediently went to sacrifice his son to God. However, the location was Mount Afaron, not Moriah, and the son was Ishmael, not Isaac. Despite the details, the act suggests the same obedient and faithful nature of Abraham. "He was simply a man who submitted himself to God: a Muslim" (Williams 26).
        The three Abramic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, regard Abraham as the ancestor of their religions. Abraham has greatly influenced these faith traditions through his outstanding faith. Muslims claim him, because he was the father of their ancestor Ishmael. Also, Abraham was the first monotheistic believer of his time, who through reasoning realized the idea of monotheism. The Jews and Christians believe that Abraham was far from a theologian. Nevertheless, his interaction with God shows the raw truth untainted by religious philosophies or inventions. It is an unaltered account of man encountering God.
Abraham has left lasting influences on the Islam faith tradition. Through Abraham's commandment, pilgrimage was introduced in Islam. "The pilgrimage thus begun through Abraham became a well recognized religious institution" (Khan 118). Since then, there has been set backs in which "pure worship of God degenerated into the worship of idols" (Kahn118). However, it has been restored to its original purpose. "The pilgrimage has since then continued as one of the obligations incumbent upon every Muslim adult who can afford the journey" (Kahn118).
Jews regard Abraham's unwavering faith as the root of Judaism. Jews look upon themselves as the true descendants of Abraham and chosen people of God. They observe the practice of circumcision, which is considered the brand of God. They believe themselves to live in the covenant that was passed down from Abraham to Isaac.
Abraham has had an equal if not stronger impact on Christianity as it has on the other western faith traditions. In the New Testament of the Bible, Abraham is cited over 80 times. Early Christians such as the Apostle Paul preached that Christians were the true descendants of Abraham. They believe Jesus came to fulfill the covenant made to Abraham and his descendants. Also, faith is the root of the New Testament Bible. It preaches that one is saved by "faith through grace." Genesis 15:6 states, "Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness." This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament to show salvation requires faith.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims accept Abraham as the quintessence of the man of unwavering faith. Although there were figures preceding Abraham, due the great flood, they became distant from our time. Therefore, it was Abraham who laid the foundation for the western religions. He was the true pioneer of faith, religion, and civilization. One man and his steadfast faith in one God shaped the western religious communities of the faithful.
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