June 22, 2024
Prophet Muhammad's genealogy
So we shall shed light on Prophet Muhammad's genealogy and bring forth some important details on the subject.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is widely recognized within Islamic tradition as a descendant of Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) ibn Ibrahim (Abraham) (peace be upon them). This lineage is not only a significant aspect of Islamic belief but also an important element that connects the Arab people, especially those of the Quraysh tribe, to the broader Abrahamic tradition. So we shall shed light on Prophet Muhammad’s genealogy and bring forth some important details on the subject.

Lineage and Genealogy

According to Islamic tradition, Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) the elder son of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), was born to Hagar (Hajar). Ismail (peace be upon him) is considered the forefather of many Arab tribes, specifically the Adnanite Arabs. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is believed to be a direct descendant of Ismail through his second son, Qedar. The genealogical line traditionally presented by Muslim historians and scholars includes several notable figures and tribes that trace back to Ismail, eventually leading to the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, to which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) belonged.

The claim that “Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) genealogy is fake” lacks solid ground and contradicts well-established academic works. This assertion appears to be based on assumptions rather than rigorous scholarly research. Scholars like Dr. Jay Smith and Rob Christian, who propagate such views, are essentially building castles in the air, offering arguments that lack academic value and fail to hold up under critical examination.

Quranic and Hadith Evidence

The Quran mentions the lineage and blessings of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his progeny, including Ismail, multiple times, although it does not explicitly outline the genealogical tree leading to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Quran speaks highly of the descendants of Ibrahim and acknowledges their role in continuing the monotheistic tradition.

Surah Al-Baqarah (2:124-129)

124. And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [Allah] said, “Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people.” [Abraham] said, “And of my descendants?” [Allah] said, “My covenant does not include the wrongdoers.”

125. And [mention] when We made the House [i.e., the Kaaba] a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].”

126. And [mention] when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits – whoever of them believes in Allah and the Last Day.” [Allah] said. “And whoever disbelieves – I will grant him enjoyment for a little; then I will force him to the punishment of the Fire, and wretched is the destination.”

127. And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.

128. Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and [raise] from our descendants a Muslim community [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

129. Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

Explanation

In these verses, Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them) pray to Allah to make their descendants a community of believers and to send among them a messenger (verse 2:129). This prayer is significant as it is seen as a supplication for the coming of a prophet from among their progeny who would guide the people with divine wisdom and teachings.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is believed by Muslims to be the fulfillment of this prayer. He is considered the last and final prophet, often referred to as the “Seal of the Prophets,” which means that he concludes the line of prophetic messages that began with Adam (peace be upon him). The mentioned Arabic phrase underscores this belief by linking Muhammad’s prophethood directly to the supplication of Abraham. This supplication asked for a prophet to arise from their lineage, which aligns with the Islamic view that Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, thereby fulfilling Abraham’s prayer.

Therefore, the phrase “it is the supplication of my father Abraham” signifies that Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood was a divine answer to Abraham’s prayer for a guide to emerge from his descendants, as stated in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:124-129).

Irbaz ibn Sariah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“إنِّي عِندَ اللهِ في أُمِّ الكِتابِ لخاتَمُ النَّبيِّينَ وإنَّ آدمَ لَمُنْجَدِلٌ في طِينتِه، وسأُنَبِّئُكم بتأْويلِ ذلك: دَعْوةُ أبي إبراهيمَ”

“Indeed, I am, in the sight of Allah, the Seal of the Prophets while Adam was still being molded in his clay. And I will inform you of the interpretation of this: it is the supplication of my father Abraham (Ibrahim), peace be upon him.”

[Musand Imam Ahmad: H#17163]

It was narrated that Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“When Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) finished circumambulating the House (Ka’abah), he came to Maqam Ibrahim. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, this is the Maqam of our father Ibrahim (peace be upon him), about which Allah says, “And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim as a place of prayer“.[2:125] He replied “Yes”

[Sunan ibn Majah: H#2960]

Narrated Wathilah bin Al-Asqa’ (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed, Allah chose Kinanah from the children of Isma’il, and He chose Quraish from Kinanah, and He chose Hashim from Quraish, and He chose me from Banu Hashim.

[Sahih Muslim: H#3606]

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) attributed himself to Ismail the son of Ibrahim (peace be upon them). So Muhamd’s blood-relation with Ismail is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Only ignorant and biased people can raise doubts about this established relationship.

Historical Context

The linkage between Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Ismail (peace be upon him) is not only a matter of religious belief but also an important aspect of Arab identity. Before the advent of Islam, many Arab tribes, particularly those in the Hijaz region, already identified themselves as descendants of Ismail. The Quraysh tribe, to which Muhammad (peace be upon him) belonged, held a significant position in Meccan society, partly due to their claimed lineage from Ismail (peace be upon him), enhancing their status and religious authority among the Arabs.

Scholarly Consensus

Almost all Muslim scholars across various schools of thought agree on the lineage of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)descending from Ismail (peace be upon him). This consensus is reflected in classical Islamic historiography, biographical literature, and genealogical studies. Scholars like Ibn Kathir, in his work “Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya,” and al-Tabari, in his “Tarikh al-Tabari,” provide detailed genealogies affirming this lineage.

Significance in Islam

The descent from Ismail (peace be upon him) underscores several key themes in Islam:

  1. Monotheistic Continuity: It emphasizes the continuity of the monotheistic message from Ibrahim to Muhammad (peace be upon them), reinforcing the idea that Islam is part of a long tradition of worshipping one God.
  2. Prophetic Brotherhood: It highlights the connection between the Abrahamic prophets, fostering a sense of brotherhood and shared purpose among the followers of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
  3. Religious Legitimacy: The lineage provides religious and moral legitimacy to Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mission, as he is seen as the fulfillment of Ibrahim’s prayer for a messenger among his descendants.

In conclusion, the belief in Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) descent from Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) is deeply ingrained in Islamic tradition, supported by religious texts, historical records, and scholarly consensus. This lineage not only enhances the spiritual heritage of Muslims but also connects them to the broader Abrahamic tradition, underscoring the unity and continuity of divine guidance through the ages.

The descent of Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Ismail (peace be upon him) was so established among the Arabs that there is not a single classic book on Quraysh’s genealogy that denies this fact.

The famous books on Quraysh’s genealogy establish the fact that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a descendant of Ismail (peace be upon him). These works include:

  1. Muhammad ibn Ishaq (d. 151 AH): Kitab al-Maghazi
  2. Hisham ibn Muhammad al-Kalbi (d. 204 AH): Jumharat al-Nasb
  3. Abdul Malik ibn Hisham (d. 218 AH): al-Seerat al-Nabawiyyah
  4. Mos’ab al-Zubairy (d. 236 AH): Nasb Quraysh
  5. Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Balazari (d. 279 AH): Ansab al-Ashraf
  6. Ali ibn Ahmad ibn al-Hazm (d. 456 AH): Jumharat al-Ansab al-Arab
  7. Abdul Karim ibn Muhammad al-Sam’ani (d. 564 AH): Al-Ansab

Theophanes’s Testimony

The Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) blood relation to Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them) was so established that even his blatant enemies affirmed this relationship. Theophanes the Confessor was a notable Byzantine monk, chronicler, and Christian saint who lived during the 8th and early 9th centuries. Theophanes’ most significant contribution to history is his Chronographia (The Chronicle), which he compiled in the early 9th century CE. 

Despite showing hatred for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Theophanes affirms the descent of Muhammad from Ismail (peace be upon them). Theophanes noted while reporting Mouamed (Muhammad)’s (peace be upon him) death:

“I consider it necessary to give an account of this man’s origin. He was descended from a very widespread tribe, that of Ishmael, son of Abraham; for Nizaros, descendant of Ishmael, is recognized as the father of them all.”

[The Chronicle Of Theophanes Confessor, p.464]

(Focus on the highlighted text)

Theophanes the Confessor, a Byzantine monk and chronicler, wrote his “Chronographia” in the early 9th century. His work provides a detailed account of Byzantine history and includes references to the rise of Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Theophanes lived relatively close to the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him), which lends credibility to his accounts as a contemporary or near-contemporary source.

Recognition of Lineage

This statement is important for several reasons:

  1. Independent Verification: As a Byzantine historian, Theophanes provides an independent account of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) lineage. His recognition of Muhammad’s descent from Ishmael (peace be upon them) offers corroboration from a non-Muslim source, affirming Islamic genealogical traditions that trace Muhammad’s ancestry to Ishmael, the son of Abraham (peace be upon them).
  2. Historical Context: Theophanes’ account places Muhammad(peace be upon him) within the broader historical and genealogical context of the Abrahamic traditions. By linking Muhammad to Ishmael (peace be upon them), Theophanes acknowledges the shared heritage between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all of whom regard Abraham as a patriarch.
  3. Acknowledge Tribal Descent: The mention of Nizaros (likely referring to Nizar, an ancestor in the lineage of the Quraysh tribe) as a recognized forefather underscores the importance of tribal affiliations in Arab society. It highlights how lineage and descent were crucial in establishing social and political legitimacy.

Broader Implications

The recognition of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) lineage by Theophanes, despite his negative views, has broader implications for historical and interfaith understanding:

  1. Genealogical Continuity: Theophanes’ account supports the notion of genealogical continuity within the Abrahamic faiths. By acknowledging Muhammad’s descent from Ishmael (peace be upon them), Theophanes bridges the gap between Islamic tradition and Judeo-Christian heritage.
  2. Historical Credibility: The fact that a Byzantine chronicler acknowledges Muhammad’s lineage lends historical credibility to the genealogical claims made in Islamic tradition. This external confirmation is valuable for historians studying the early Islamic period and the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
  3. Interfaith Relations: Theophanes’ account, while hostile, inadvertently contributes to a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the Abrahamic faiths. Recognizing common ancestry can serve as a basis for dialogue and mutual respect among different religious traditions.

Conclusion

In summary, Theophanes the Confessor’s acknowledgment of Prophet Muhammad’s descent from Ishmael (peace be upon them) is a significant historical testimony. It provides an independent confirmation of Islamic genealogical traditions from a contemporary Byzantine source. This recognition underscores the shared heritage of the Abrahamic faiths and contributes to the historical credibility of Islamic narratives about Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) lineage. Despite his antagonistic view of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Theophanes’ account highlights the interconnectedness of religious histories and the importance of genealogy in understanding the origins and legitimacy of historical figures.

The Jewish Tradition

It is well established that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was purely an Arab. In addition to the Islamic faith, the Jewish tradition also believes that Ishmael son of Abraham (peace be upon them) is the ancestor of Arabs.

Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived in the life of Iesa/Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), observes in his famous work Antiquities of the Jews while relating the story of Hagar and Ishmail (peace be upon them):

“When the lad was grown up, he married a wife, by birth an Egyptian, from w^hence the mother was herself derived originally. Of this wife were born to Ishmael twelve sons, Nabaioth, Kedar, Abdeel, Mabsam, Idumas, Masmaos, Masaos, Chodad, Theman, Jetur, Naphesus, Cadmas. These inhabited all the country from Euphrates to the Red Sea, and called it Nabatene. They are an Arabian nation, and name their tribes from these, both because of their own virtue and because of the dignity of Abraham their father.”

[Antiquities of the Jews:1/43]

The Jewish Virtual Library observes:

According to tradition, Hagar was a daughter of Pharaoh, given to Abram during his travels in Egypt. She bore Abram a son, Ishmael, who, according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs.

Genealogical Lineage

There are three parts of Prophet Muhammad’s genealogy:

  1. From Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Ma’ed ibn Adnan
  2. From Adnan to Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him)
  3. From Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to Prophet Adam (peace be upon him)

From Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Ma’ad ibn Adnan

This chain of genealogical order is agreed upon among Muslim scholars and pre-Islamic genealogists. This agreed-upon chain of genealogical order was transmitted by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal through his Hashimi teacher Imam Muhammad ibn Idrees al-Shafiyee (May Allah have mercy on both of them). The same genealogy was transmitted from Imam Muhammad ibn Shihab al-Zuhri through his pupils. Mos’ab al-Zubairy also described this chain in detail in his work Nasb Quraysh. The aforementioned genealogists also described this chain with the same names.

This lineage of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) can be traced from Sahih al-Bukhari. In the book of Bukhari, specifically in the section known as the “Book of Prophets,” there is a lineage presented that traces the ancestry of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The lineage is as follows:

Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf ibn Qusay ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka’b ibn Lu’ay ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik ibn al-Nadr ibn Kinana ibn Khuzaymah ibn Mudrikah ibn Ilyas ibn Mudar ibn Nizar ibn Ma’ad ibn Adnan.

Here is the detailed lineage from Sahih al-Bukhari:

  1. Muhammad (peace be upon him)
  2. Ibn Abdullah
  3. Ibn Abdul-Muttalib
  4. Ibn Hashim
  5. Ibn Abd Manaf
  6. Ibn Qusay
  7. Ibn Kilab
  8. Ibn Murrah
  9. Ibn Ka’b
  10. Ibn Lu’ay
  11. Ibn Ghalib
  12. Ibn Fihr
  13. Ibn Malik
  14. Ibn al-Nadr
  15. Ibn Kinana
  16. Ibn Khuzaymah
  17. Ibn Mudrikah
  18. Ibn Ilyas
  19. Ibn Mudar
  20. Ibn Nizar
  21. Ibn Ma’ad
  22. Ibn Adnan

This chain of ancestors is well-established and widely accepted among Islamic scholars. It connects Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Adnan, a descendant of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), the son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). The genealogy emphasizes the noble and revered lineage of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), highlighting his deep-rooted ancestry in the prominent Arab tribes.

From Adnan to Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him)

Chronological records in Egyptian hieroglyphs about Prophet Yusuf ibn Yaqub ibn Ishaq ibn Ibrahim (peace be upon all of them) suggest that Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) lived around 3000 BCE. Hor-Den was either Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) himself or the king who appointed Yusuf as Minister of Treasury. The Ancient Egyptian historian Manetho called him “Oúsaphaîdos” (Greek transcription for Yousuf) and credited him with a reign of 20 years. Hor-Den’s reign began in 2970 BCE, which indicates that Yusuf’s great-uncle Ismail (peace be upon him) lived around 3000 BCE.

Hence the distance between Prophet Muhammad (571-632 CE) and Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them) equals about 3300 to 3500 years. How many generations could live in this period? The Judeo-Christian traditions assert that Prophet Abraham ( (peace be upon him) lived to be 175 years old. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), specifically in the Book of Genesis, it is recorded that Abraham lived to be 175 years old (Genesis 25:7).

In Islamic tradition, although the Quran does not specify his age, Islamic historians are divided into two groups. The first group of scholars claims that Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) lived for 200 years. The other group of scholars refers to the same age of 175 years based on historical and religious texts that align closely with Judeo-Christian sources.

[Al-Muntazam by Imam ibn al-Jawzi]

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was 63 years old on his deathbed. If we take an average of 63 and 200 it appears roughly 130. If we take 130 years on average for each generation between Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them), the number of generations then must be around 27. So the number of generations between the Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them) might be from 25 to 30. Allah knows the best.

Genealogists have extensively documented various genealogical chains from Adnan to Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him). Among these, many scholars regard the chain transmitted by Zubair ibn Bakkar from Imam Muhammad ibn Shehab al-Zuhri (may Allah have mercy on him) as one of the most credible. This chain is recorded in the historical work of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, a prominent Islamic historian. The chain is as follows:

“Adnan son of Udad son of Al-Humaysa son of As’hab son of Nabit son of Qedar son of Ishmael”

[Tarikh ibn Jarir at-Tabri]

Al-Balazari transmitted the same chain from scholars of Madinah. [Ansab al-Ashraf by al-Blazari]

This chain is widely accepted for several reasons:

  1. Transmission by Renowned Scholars: The transmission through respected scholars like Zubair ibn Bakkar and Imam Muhammad ibn Shehab al-Zuhri lends significant credibility. Imam al-Zuhri, in particular, is known for his rigorous methodology in preserving and transmitting hadith and historical reports.
  2. Consistency Across Sources: The majority of genealogists report either the same chain or very similar ones, with minor variations. These variations might include the addition of one or two generations or slight modifications in names due to dialectal differences or transliterations over time.

Exceptions and Variations

While the aforementioned chain is highly regarded, there are reports with slight differences:

  • Additional Generations: Some genealogical chains include one or two extra generations between Adnan and Ishmael. These additions might be due to different oral traditions or scholarly interpretations over time.
  • Modified Names: Minor variations in the names of ancestors are also reported, which could result from regional linguistic differences or transcription errors in historical manuscripts.

The Forty Generations Report

An exception to the commonly accepted genealogical chains is the report that lists forty generations between Adnan and Ishmael. This report stands out significantly due to the unusually high number of generations, which contrasts sharply with the more commonly reported chains.

  1. Skepticism Among Scholars: Many genealogists and historians view the forty generations report with skepticism. The substantial difference in the number of generations raises questions about its authenticity and accuracy.
  2. Lack of Corroboration: This longer chain is not widely corroborated by other historical sources or scholars, further contributing to doubts about its validity.

Conclusion

This chain, along with slight variations, remains the most accepted and widely recognized lineage among scholars, reflecting the rich tradition of historical and genealogical scholarship in the Islamic world.

Seerat ibn Hisham’s Error

Abd al-Malik ibn Hisham’s al-Seerat al-Nabawiyyah is the widely read book on the biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He generally transmitted reports from his teacher Muhammad ibn Ishaq (May Allah have mercy on him). Muhammad ibn Ishaq often transmitted from his teacher Imam Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shehab al-Zuhri (May Allah have mercy on him). But Ibn Ishaq’s report on Adnan’s lineage from Ismail (peace be upon him) missed an important generation that is reported by other scholars from Ibn Ishaq’s teacher. It is Qedar ibn Ismail that Ibn Ishaq missed.

From Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to Prophet Adam (peace be upon him)

The most reliable account about the ancestors of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is mentioned in the well-known book “Nasb Quraysh” by Abu Abdullah Mus’ab ibn Abdullah al-Zubayri from the family of Zubayr ibn al-Awam (d. 233 AH). This book not only mentions the original Arabic names of Abraham’s forefathers but also provides a number of generations that is closer to accuracy. Abu Abdullah al-Zubayri claimed that Arab genealogists have a consensus on this genealogy. According to this account, the blessed lineage of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is as follows:

Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) son of Azar son of al-Tajir son of al-Shaji’ son of al-Ra’i son of al-Qasim son of Ya’bur son of al-Sa’ih son of al-Rafid son of al-Sa’im (Shem) son of Noah son of Malkan son of Mathub son of Idris (Enoch) son of al-Ra’id son of Mahla’il son of Qinan son of al-Tahir son of Hibatullah son of Sheeth son of Adam.

Lineage of Prophet Abraham in Judeo-Christian Traditions

  1. Adam (the first man)
  2. Seth (Adam’s third son, born after Abel’s death)
  3. Enosh (son of Seth)
  4. Kenan (son of Enosh)
  5. Mahalalel (son of Kenan)
  6. Jared (son of Mahalalel)
  7. Enoch (son of Jared, known for being taken up by God)
  8. Methuselah (son of Enoch, known for his long life)
  9. Lamech (son of Methuselah)
  10. Noah (son of Lamech, survivor of the Flood)
  11. Shem (son of Noah, from whom the Semitic peoples are descended)

From Shem, the lineage continues through Arpachshad:

  1. Arpachshad (son of Shem)
  2. Shelah (son of Arpachshad)
  3. Eber (son of Shelah, from whom the term “Hebrew” is derived)
  4. Peleg (son of Eber)
  5. Reu (son of Peleg)
  6. Serug (son of Reu)
  7. Nahor (son of Serug)
  8. Terah (son of Nahor)

The lineage of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) described in Judeo-Christian traditions, particularly in the Book of Genesis, is considered unreliable by many scholars. This biblical genealogy, which has been widely referenced and accepted within Judeo-Christian contexts, contains discrepancies and historical inaccuracies when scrutinized closely. Unfortunately, the influence of these traditions extended into Islamic scholarship. Many early Muslim scholars, possibly due to the limited availability of alternative sources or the prevalent influence of Judeo-Christian narratives, adopted this biblical genealogy for Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).

This adoption is notably seen in the works of Abd al-Malik ibn Hisham, an early Islamic historian known for his editing of the prophetic biography, “Al-Seerat al-Nabawiyyah.” Ibn Hisham’s inclusion of the same biblical lineage in his seminal work played a significant role in cementing this genealogy within Islamic historiography. His reliance on the biblical account without sufficient critical examination or corroboration from Islamic traditions and other historical records led to a widespread misconception.

As a result, later scholars and historians often regarded this lineage as the authoritative and perhaps the only available genealogy of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). This perception overlooked or marginalized other genealogical accounts that might have been more accurate or closer to the oral traditions preserved within the Arab and Islamic contexts.

Therefore, the acceptance and propagation of this erroneous lineage have had long-lasting effects on the understanding of Prophet Ibrahim’s ancestry within Islamic scholarship. It underscores the need for a more critical and comprehensive examination of historical sources, ensuring that the genealogies and historical narratives align with reliable and corroborative evidence from multiple traditions. This approach would help rectify the misconceptions and provide a clearer, more accurate account of Prophet Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) lineage.

Imam Ibn Katheer al-Shafiyee said that Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) lineage reported by Muslim historians is primarily based on biblical genealogy. He comments on this genealogy in these words:

And regarding the belief that these historical accounts are preserved in what was revealed from the heavens, there is some doubt, as several scholars have noted while criticizing them. It appears that they have been inserted. Some mentioned them as additions and interpretations, and they contain many errors.

[Al-Bidayah wal-Nihayah]

Criticism of biblical genealogy and chronicles often centers on several key points:

  1. Historical Inaccuracies: Scholars have pointed out numerous inconsistencies and anachronisms in the genealogies and chronicles found in the Bible. These issues raise questions about the reliability of these accounts as accurate historical records.
  2. Textual Alterations: Over centuries, the biblical texts have undergone numerous translations, transcriptions, and edits. These changes can introduce errors and distortions, making it difficult to ascertain the original content and meaning.
  3. Influence of Oral Traditions: The genealogies and chronicles in the Bible were often based on oral traditions, which can be highly fluid and subject to embellishments, omissions, and alterations as they are passed down through generations.
  4. Lack of Corroborative Evidence: Many of the genealogical records and historical events described in the Bible lack corroborative evidence from other historical sources or archaeological findings. This absence of external validation makes it challenging to verify the biblical accounts.
  5. Theological Motivations: Some scholars argue that the genealogies and chronicles were shaped by theological or ideological motives. For instance, certain genealogies might have been constructed or altered to support specific religious narratives or to legitimize particular lineages and claims of authority.
  6. Different Manuscripts and Versions: The existence of multiple manuscripts and versions of biblical texts with variations in genealogical details further complicates the issue. Discrepancies between these versions can lead to confusion and debate about which account is the most accurate.

In light of these criticisms, many scholars approach biblical genealogies and chronicles with caution. They often consider these accounts to be of limited historical accuracy and instead focus on their theological, literary, and cultural significance within the broader context of biblical studies. The goal is to understand these texts as part of the religious and cultural milieu in which they were produced, rather than as precise historical records.

Importance of Arab Genealogy

Contrary to the biblical genealogy, Arab genealogists have recorded a more accurate and reliable lineage of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). The Arabs were known for their exceptional memory and oral traditions, which played a crucial role in preserving their history and genealogies with remarkable precision.

Exemplary Memory and Oral Traditions

In pre-Islamic and early Islamic societies, the ability to memorize and orally transmit vast amounts of information was highly valued. This was not limited to human genealogies; Arabs could trace the lineage of their horses and other livestock with remarkable accuracy. Such meticulous record-keeping was essential for maintaining the purity of bloodlines and for social and tribal identity.

Rigorous Genealogical Practices

Arab genealogists, known as nassaboon, were specialists dedicated to the study and preservation of family lineages. They employed rigorous methods to ensure the accuracy of their records. These genealogists would cross-reference oral accounts with written records, if available, and sought corroboration from multiple reliable sources within the community. The precision of their work was critical in a society where lineage played a significant role in social standing, inheritance, and tribal alliances.

Significance of Accurate Genealogies

Accurate genealogical records were not only a matter of cultural pride but also served practical purposes in Arab society. They were essential for resolving disputes, establishing rights to leadership, and maintaining the social fabric. The emphasis on accurate and well-preserved genealogies reflects the Arabs’ deep respect for their ancestry and their commitment to preserving their heritage for future generations.

The Arab genealogical tradition, with its emphasis on accuracy and thoroughness, stands in contrast to the more fluid and sometimes inconsistent genealogical accounts found in biblical texts. The rigorous practices of Arab genealogists ensured that the lineage of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was recorded with a high degree of precision, reflecting the Arabs’ exemplary memory and their dedication to preserving their history and identity. This meticulous approach has provided a more reliable and respected account of Ibrahim’s ancestry within Islamic historiography.

Genealogy vs Archeoalogy

Critics of the traditional genealogies from Adam to Abraham (peace be upon them) argue that the number of generations listed in texts such as the Bible, which typically suggest around 20 generations, is insufficient to account for the lengthy span of human history. Some scholars and researchers estimate that the number of generations should be at least double the traditional figure, given the extensive archaeological evidence of human habitation in regions like the Arabian Peninsula.

Points of Criticism and Evidence

  1. Limited Generations in Biblical Genealogy: The genealogical records in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Genesis, suggest approximately 20 generations between Adam and Abraham. Critics argue that this number does not adequately represent the vast timescale of human history.
  2. Archaeological Evidence: Archaeological findings in the Arabian Peninsula and other regions indicate that humans have been present for over 100,000 years. Sites such as Jebel Faya in the UAE have provided evidence of human activity dating back to this period, suggesting a much longer history of human settlement than the biblical genealogies account for.
  3. Genetic Studies: Modern genetic studies support the notion of a much longer timeline for human evolution and migration. The genetic diversity observed in contemporary human populations implies a more extended period of ancestry and a greater number of generations.

Theological and Historical Context

  1. Symbolic Interpretations: Some theologians and scholars propose that the genealogies in religious texts may be symbolic or represent selected lineages rather than comprehensive records of every generation. This perspective allows for the accommodation of longer timescales suggested by scientific evidence.
  2. Cultural Narratives: Genealogies in ancient texts often serve to connect significant figures and convey cultural or religious narratives rather than provide precise historical accounts. The emphasis might be on the spiritual and moral lessons rather than strict historical chronology.
  3. Fragmentary Records: The records available to ancient chroniclers were likely fragmentary and based on oral traditions. As such, the genealogies might have been simplified or condensed for various reasons, including ease of transmission and the preservation of key ancestral figures.

Reconciling Genealogical Records with Archaeological Evidence

  1. Extended Generations: If we consider an average generation span of 200-300 years, then doubling the traditional genealogical count covers 80000-120000. It is well established that early human generations had longer life spans as compared to contemporary human beings.
  2. Integration with Scientific Data: Integrating archaeological and genetic data with traditional genealogies requires a multidisciplinary approach. This involves using scientific methods to supplement and expand our understanding of human history beyond the limits of ancient textual records.
  3. Reevaluating Chronologies: Scholars continue to reevaluate the chronologies presented in ancient texts in light of new evidence. This ongoing process helps to bridge the gap between religious traditions and scientific findings, enriching our understanding of human history.

The criticism that the traditional genealogies from Adam to Abraham (peace be upon them) are too short is supported by archaeological and genetic evidence suggesting a much longer timeline for human existence. While religious texts provide valuable cultural and spiritual insights, they may not capture the full historical and genealogical complexity of early human populations. Recognizing the limitations of these ancient records and integrating them with modern scientific discoveries allows for a more comprehensive understanding of human ancestry and history.

We don’t believe in the evolution of human beings from pre-existing hominids. Still, human history is not so short that can be covered only by a total of 50 generations before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). There must be around a hundred generations to fill the gap between Adam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them). It is not merely a speculation, but archeological records demand this number.

Conclusion

The genealogy of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) up to the Prophet Ibrahim( peace be upon him) is well-documented and supported by extensive scholarly research. Claims that question its authenticity are not grounded in rigorous academic methodology and often ignore the substantial evidence provided by Islamic historiography. Established works by respected scholars provide a reliable and coherent account of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) lineage, reinforcing the credibility of traditional Islamic genealogical records. However, the genealogy of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) could not be preserved accurately. neither in Judeo-Christian traditions nor in Arabic tradition. So the critics claim that Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) descent from Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) is fake, and does not make sense.

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