Abraham in Mecca?!

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“The Sacrifice of Isaac” by Caravaggio

Abraham was in Mecca, you say?  According to Islamic doctrine, Abraham travelled to Mecca with his family [1].  According to Islamic legend, Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Ishmael where the Ka’aba in Mecca stands today when an angel stopped him.  So, they deny that Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah (now Mount Zion) in Jerusalem.

Muslim apologists will attempt to use Holy Writ to support this belief.  They often cite Genesis 12:9 to defend Abraham’s presence in Mecca.  There are a few problems with this: (1) this passage says Abraham did so, but this was before the birth of Ishmael, his marriage to Hagar [2], and the birth of his other son Isaac [3], and (2) the passage used says “Abram went down into Egypt, to sojourn there” [4], and (3) the passage is too vague to surely refer to Mecca.  So, Abraham was in Bethel as last recorded [5], and went “to the south” (v. 9), and proceeded “down into Egypt” (v. 10).  Abraham could not possibly have gone south to Mecca if he “went down into Egypt” as the Bible records.  It is geographically not possible as Mecca is southeast of Egypt and Egypt northwest of Mecca.  So, Abraham would have gone up into Egypt and not “down into Egypt”.  Yet it says he “went down into Egypt”; so Abraham could not have possibly gone to Mecca and even less with his children Ishmael and Isaac seeing that they were not even born yet.  This is a hard thing for Muslims to accept as the Quran is not written in chronological order but by length of chapters; the same cannot be said of biblical books such as Genesis.

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As you can see, Egypt is northwest of Mecca

So, there is obvious ambiguity in the reference to south.  Where is south?  South is a generic expression that can be anywhere.  Did Abraham travel south to Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, to Mount Sinai, Hebron, Massada, Beersheba?  It is not certain.  Even if Abraham were to have travelled to Saudi Arabia (hypothetically speaking), the term south is too generic to specify to Mecca.  Furthermore there is a lack of documentation or archaeological evidence that Abraham ever was in Mecca and such documentation did not seem to exist until Muhammad’s life [6].  The only way Muslims can say Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael were ever in Mecca is to cite the Quran and other Islamic sources, yet we know how credible they can be especially due to the lack of historical evidence or even proof that the Quran comes straight from God.

When that doesn’t work, Muslims might make reference to Baca or Bakkah as it is known in Arabic.  The Bible, however, records Abraham was in Beersheba as Sarah “wandered in the wilderness of Bersabee” and that Ishmael “dwelt in the wilderness of Pharan” [7] with his mother Hagar.  The Valley of Baca is 5 miles away from Jerusalem [8].  Due to its proximity, Mount Zion is mentioned in the same passage [9].  Bethlehem is actually around the same area as it is also 5 miles away from the Holy City.  So, we can see that Abraham’s presence in Mecca is purely Islamic propaganda to further its own legitimacy.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari 4:55:584

[2] Genesis 16:3.15

[3] Genesis 17:19

[4] Genesis 12:10

[5] Genesis 12:8

[6] Quran 2:127; Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets, Story of Abraham

[7] Genesis 21:14.21

[8] Shamoum, Sam. Answering Islam: Abraham, Mecca and the Qibla. <http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/incomplete_mecca.htm&gt;.

[9] Psalm 83(84):7-8

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