Abraham - Friend of God

And Rebel Mystic

Abraham: Friend of God
Was Abraham Black?

Alice C. Linsley says
Abraham means "burnt father" and refers to his skin color.

Father Abraham
  • The Bible tells him, In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed
  • In the Qur'an, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) declares to him, "I will make thee an Imam to the nations," honoring him as the great Founder of the Ka'aba at Mecca.

    אל שדי

  • A Jewish blessing invokes "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob" {El Shaddai : Exodus 6:3} -- promising them "I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you."
In fact, ALL the peoples of the book, the great monotheist traditions, know him as our ancient Patriarch, the founding father of faith in the One God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Truly, Father Abraham . . . . had many sons.

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Abraham - Friend of God

Ka'aba Stone
Mecca's Ka'aba : built by Abraham?

(and Rebel Mystic)

The Bible makes Abraham
because of the many virtues attrbuted to him in the scriptural narrative (piety, obedience, hospitality, generosity, compassion), the ideal man.

[Gabriel Sivan. The Bible and Civilization]

Abraham is called in Genesis the Hebrew, ha-Ivri. The meaning of Ivri relates to crossing over, or the other side. That is, Abraham crossed over [the Euphrates River], wending his way to the Promised Land.

The Bible tells a part of the story
Jews have referred to the God of Abraham as magen Avrahim. This comes from Genesis 15:1, where God tells the Patriarch, "I am thy shield and thine exceeding great reward." Then in the Christian testament, Paul tells the Galatians, "And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Certainly the Bible of the Jews and Christians tells a portion of Abraham's story. But looking beyond the Bible, in the Qur'an, the patriarch Abraham is called Ibrahim. He it was, with his eldest son, who established or sanctified the holy Ka'aba Stone in Mecca. This mystic site, the sacred Black Stone of Mecca dates back according to Islamic tradition to the time of Adam and Eve.

But it was Ibrahim who located the Black Stone at the traditional site of Adam's altar when the Archangel Gabriel revealed it to him. Ibrahim ordered his firstborn son (one of Muhammads direct forebears) the biblical Ishmael to erect a new temple in which to imbed the holy Stone. This new temple is the Ka'aba in Mecca, a site reverenced by Muslims, and the holy place toward which each Muslim's once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage (Hajj) is directed.

The Bible identifies Abraham with the epithet of Friend

Sources outside the Bible tell us more. For example, hellenistic legends say that Abraham was King of Damascus.

Abraham the Hanif
The Islamic view sets Abraham apart, reverencing him in a way quite distinct from the biblical appreciation of him accorded by Jews and Christians.

In Surah 2.124, God promises Abraham: I will make thee an Imam to the nations.

He was not Yahuudiyyaun, "a Jew", nor Nasraaniyyaan, "a Christian", but rather Haniifaam-Muslimaan, "an upright" man and a submitter, namely, a Muslim.

In the Qur'an see Surah 4.125 - God calls him Friend

Thus he became, to Muslims, Khalilullah (the Friend of God)

Abraham had, through his eldest son Ishmael, twelve sons, and all of them became Princes. The Bible itself refers to this.

It has been pointed out that Ishmael's mother Hajar, whose name is etymologically cognate with the same root as "Hijrah" (and possibly "Hajj") truly was a Matriarch in her own right, who extracted a PROMISE and essentially her own COVENANT with Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Evicted by her rival Sarah, jealous that Hajar, the youthful African servant girl had given Abraham his first born son, Hajar searched in vain for water for herself and her infant Ismael. Seven times she ran between the hills Safa and Marwah to find water, crying to God to save them. God heard, and answered, fulfilling his promise to make Ismael father of many nations. Muslims commemorate the spiritual heroism of Hajar, during the two pilgrimages (the Hajj and Umra), in which pilgrims are required to walk between the two hills seven times in memory of her quest for water.

Background: one source site

Abram was not the only hanif.

A Sumerian's black complexion

The Bible reverences Abraham and makes him first of the Patriarchs. God repeatedly told the Jews, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." {That is, El Shaddai.} Abraham was given the sign of circumcision, and became the founder of the Covenant (b'rith) with Israel. The Hebrew Acronym pictured above, A-A (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous) stands for Avrahim Avinu -- our Father Abraham. Jews honor Abraham and remember him as the progenitor of many nations. "Many sons had father Abraham." Yet Abraham was not, correctly speaking, a "Jew."

By heritage, the man born Abram was a man of Mesopotamia, namely Ur of the Chaldees. [Sumer. The Kasdim] His past was anything but "righteous" as the peoples of the Book would call it. Abram's father, Terah according to Joshua 24:2, worshiped idols. Jewish tradition refers to Terah as an idol maker. Ur was an idolatrous city worshiping many different Gods such as the god of fire, moon, sun and stars. Sin was the name of the chief idol deity of Ur. Ningal, was the wife of the moon-god, Sin, and was worshiped as a mother God in many other cities. Ur was a evil and sinful city as can be seen in the worship practices of the moon-goddess, Ningal. Every female in the city at some time in her life would have to take her turn in serving as a priestess prostitute in the temples.


The story of Abraham's "intended" sacrifice of a beloved son almost shocks us. There have been criticisms (or at least questions asked). Who was testing whom? How do we explain God's instruction to Abraham, to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac? After all, Sarah had been childless before God (via a Messenger, or angel) had promised him. (She was far, FAR past menopause!!) And then God orders Abraham to offer his dearest "possession" -- this child of promise -- as a living sacrifice. The Hebrew expression for the event is the "Akeda" -- the binding of Isaac. In today's intense quarrels over the status of Jerusalem, a bitter bone of contention is the Rock of Abraham, Mount Moriah, the site of both Jewish Temples, and the current location of the Dome of the Rock (al-Aqsa Mosque). It was on this Rock, tradition says, that Abraham prepared to offer his beloved son as a sacrifice to God. Islam's second major holiday, Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) celebrates Abrhaham's holy intent of obedience (to sacrifice his eldest son).

The Rock of Sacrifice is none other than the Holy Mount, the site of Jerusalem or Al-Quds, The Holy City. The Christian scripture hails Abraham, who, we are told, "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." [Hebrews 11:10]

It should be noted that Islamic tradition says the actual son whom God ordered to be sacrificed was Abraham's firstborn, Ishmael, not Isaac (as anciently claimed by the Jews). The argument is an old one. The Bible and Jewish tradition are clear that it was Isaac whom his father took to the mountain to sacrific. The New Testament goes even further, declaring Isaac to be Abraham's only begotten son (which of course, by forgetting Ishmael, contradicts the Genesis account) Hebrews 11:17.

Read more: Islamic Awareness website.

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Two Incidents in the Life of 'God's Friend'

terebinths of mamre
Terebinths of Mamre
north of Hebron
marc ohara blog

The Beauty of Sarah (Qumran Scrolls)

It was known from the Bible that Sarah, Abraham's wife, was beautiful (fair to look upon). Certainly two powerful men took notice of it, causing Abram to fear for his life. Now, discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls shed further light. In Africa, the pharoah of Zoan was given such a glowing report of Sarah's wonderous beauty, by his servant Hyrcanos, he had to have her. Apparently she was a dazzling sight, exquisite, perfect, and splendid in every way. Interestingly, Abram had previously had a dream, while sleeping with Sarah, that eerily presaged his own near cuckolding. But the fragment describing it portrays the incident as reflecting positively on Sarah. Abram's dream was of a date palm (Sarah) and a cedar (Abram). The cedar was to be chopped down, but the palm tree saved his life, saying they were joined at the roots. [Abram immediately told his wife the dream, and she was able to interpret it -- correctly.] Sure enough, when the king (Pharoah) saw her, he was determined to get rid of Abram, and it was Sarah who saved his life.

Jewish tradition also asserts that Sarah's beauty and youthfulness did not desert her even to the end of her life. At age one hundred and twenty and seven years, she as as beautiful and as youthful as she had been as a maiden princess. If Abraham wanted a trophy wife, he certainly got one -- and he also paid a price, of sorts, to be sure.

Sarah - the Mesopotamian "Princess"
According to Elizabeth Gould Davis, "Sarah ranked higher than her husband, Abraham," say the legends of the Jews. Abraham owed his flocks and his herds, as well as his position as tribal chief, to his wife Sarah. It is clear from the legends, though not so clear from the book of Genesis, that Sarah was a Chaldean princess who conferred status on Abraham by marrying him. That she was the more important personage is hinted at in the Old Testament and made abundantly clear in the Legends. [Elizabeth Gould Davis. The First Sex, p 128. Quoting Louis Ginzberg. The Legends of the Jews]
In Jewish Tradition
(from Jewish Encyclopedia)
A fertile subject in the Haggadah is the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, known as the "'akedah." According to Jose ben Zimra, the idea of tempting Abraham was suggested by Satan, who said: "Lord of the Universe! Here is a man whom thou hast blessed with a son at the age of one hundred years, and yet, amidst all his feasts, he did not offer thee a single dove or young pigeon for a sacrifice" (Sanh. 87b; Gen. R. lv.). In Jose ben Zimra's opinion, the 'akedah took place immediately after Isaac's weaning. This, however, is not the general opinion. According to the Rabbis, the 'akedah not only coincided with, but was the cause of, the death of Sarah, who was informed of Abraham's intention while he and Isaac were on the way to Mount Moriah. Therefore Isaac must then have been thirty-seven years old (Seder 'Olam Rabbah, ed. Ratner, p. 6; Pirke R. El. xxxi.; Tanna debe Eliyahu R. xxvii.). Not only did he consent to the sacrifice, but he himself suggested it in the course of a discussion that arose between him and Ishmael concerning their respective merits. Ishmael asserted his superiority to Isaac on account of his having suffered himself to be circumcised at an age when he could have objected to it, while Isaac underwent the operation on the eighth day after his birth "Thou pridest thyself," replied Isaac, "on having given to God three drops of thy blood. I am now thirty-seven years old, and would gladly give my life if God wished it" (Sanh. 89b; Gen. R. lvi. 8).

While he was on the way to Mount Moriah Isaac was addressed by Satan in the following terms: "Unfortunate son of an unfortunate mother! How many days did thy mother pass in fasting and praying for thy birth! and now thy father, who has lost his mind, is going to kill thee." Isaac then endeavored to awaken the pity of his father (Gen. R. lv.). According to another haggadah Isaac rebuked Satan and told him that he was not willing to oppose the wish of his Creator and the command of his father (Tan., Gen. xlvi.). While Abraham was building the altar Isaac hid himself, fearing lest Satan should throw stones at him and render him unfit for a sacrifice. The same fear caused him to ask to be bound on the altar; "for," said he, "I am young and may tremble at the sight of the knife" (Gen. R. lvi. 8).

Read more: Jewish Encyclopedia

Hear our plea Our Father Our King


Rabbi Laibl Wolf writes

Abraham was tall and gaunt. The desert sands had sharpened his facial features into fractured contours. An imposing and stoic figure, he impressed those around him with his regal bearing and the clarity of his vision. He was the most celebrated leader in the Middle East.

Despite the trappings of obvious wealth and comfort, Abraham lived a spartan life. He took meticulous care of his flocks of sheep and even more so of his shepherds. After all, he too was a shepherd. Nicknamed the Ivri (the Hebrew), Abraham was a living legend throughout the land. He was a shepherd-king and a warrior of renown. But most of all he was known as the wise mystic who had an altogether strange notion of a single Deity. He could summon powers from Above to decimate an army or heal a sick child, and he saw things that others could not see. Angelic forces whispered in his ear. It was known that he received instructions from the mysterious G-d.

Let us imagine Abraham standing on the sand hill, the desert Tel, thinking of days gone by. He recalls the rebelliousness of his youth; how he challenged the idolatrous ways of Mesopotamian polytheism; how he was thrown into the fiery furnace by the Mesopotamian king and defied all the laws of nature by surviving the intense heat without a blemish. Then came the transforming instructions from Above, when G-d ordered Abraham to leave the country of his birth and travel to a strange land.

We see him now, standing in that new land, holy energy vibrating through his body. This land will one day be named after his grandson Israel. Until the end of days it will remain the crossroads for warring armies that seek dominion of their faith.

When Abraham heeded G-d's order he was already fully proficient in what was to become known as Kabbalah. He had even authored a major Kabbalistic text-- Sefer HaYetzira (the Book of Creative Formation). He was an acclaimed astrologer and conversant in the magic and witchcraft of the East. In his youth Abraham had turned his back on the negative forces of tum'ah (spiritual blemish) and adopted the pathway of spiritual monotheism. This rebellious stance earned him his calling card -- the Ivri , meaning the "other-sider," or the "outsider." The word Ivri became anglicized as "Hebrew."

Jewish heritage affirms a tradition that prior to the divine revelation to Moses, the Holy One appeared to the patriarchs of Genesis (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) by a unique name - El Shaddai, This Name is mistranslated in the English Bible as Almighty God, or God Almighty. The Hebrew original does not support this. In Genesis 17:1, God first appeared under this Name to Abram, telling him, "Walk before me and be perfect." The sages of Jewish tradition hold that the root of El Shaddai is dai or enough, (as in the famous word used in the Passover Haggadah, Dayeinu -- "it would have been sufficient").  God created the world but "stopped" at a certain point. He left creation "unfinished" because He wanted us to complete the job by means of exercising chesed (love) in repair of the world ( tikkun olam).

For a Christian "take" on tikkun olam see "repairing the breach."

It may be of interest to note that the Hittite cave where Abraham buried Sarah (bought from them) in Machpelah (Me'arat HaMachpela), has another deep significance in the oldest of Abrahamic traditions. Bruce Feiler says that, "In a way, Hebron has always represented the ache for lost perfection. Jewish tradition says that Machpelah is located over the entrance to the Garden of Eden. Today, it is also the site of the Moslem Sanctuary of Abraham or Ibrahimi Mosque.

The tradition coming down from the Spanish Kabbalists reveals that the first book of Kabbalah, the Sefer Yetzirah or Book of Foundation (creation), was imparted by the Creator, the Ancient of Days, to Abraham the Patriarch. The three visitors who came to Father Abraham, between the three, were a manifestation of God through the Shekhinah (the immanent form of the divine).

The words 'appeared unto him' mean that the Shechinah appeared to him through three grades that are attached to Her own aspects, referring to Michael on the right side, Gabriel on the left side, Rafael in front . . . The Shechinah appeareed to him among the oak trees -- the shadows of the world -- to show them the first circumcision, the Holy Imprint according to the secret if the Faith in the whole world.

The three holy archangels Rafael came to heal the wounds of the circumcision of covenant; Michael came to confirm the promise of a multitude of offspring; and Gabriel came to effect the (eventual) overthrow of Sodom and Gommorah.

Was Abraham Black?

According to Alice C. Linsley

The Bible has been used to support [white] racism throughout history. One such text is the "curse of Ham" in Genesis, a gloss that comes from the rabbis. This gloss is not consistent with the older tradition, as is evident in analysis of the kinship pattern of Abraham's Horite people. For example, the men listed in Genesis 4 and 5 are rulers whose lines intermarried exclusively. The same is true for the lines of Ham and Shem, Noah's sons. This means that Abraham was a descendant of both Ham and Shem.


Abraham means "burnt father" and refers to his skin color. In Arabic (a language older than Hebrew) ham means burnt. The Nilotic peoples were referred to as burnt. Abraham was a descendant of these ancestors, who the Bible designates as Kushites. Their skin color ranged from that of the black Nubians to the reddish brown Egyptians. Kush is first mentioned in the Bible as the father of Nimrod and Ramah. Kush and his sons were great rulers who controlled the waterways in their territories. The rivers were used to transport cargo and supplied the necessary water for mining industries. Kush was famous for gold, a fact to which Genesis alludes when speaking of the river Pishon that flowed through the land of Ha'vilah, where there is gold (Gen. 2:11). Another African river is the Gihon which wound through the land of Kush (Gen. 2:13). See Alice C. Linsley Kushite gold

Why was Mount Moriah chosen?
Why was Mount Moriah chosen to be the site on which to build the Temple and the Holy of Holies rather than Mount Sinai on which the Ten Commandments were given? The [Jewish] answer offered is that Mount Moriah was the site where Abraham offered his beloved son and the sanctity of sacrifice transcends the sanctity of the Commandments

[Abraham Joshua Heschel, Israel : An Echo of Eternity. Page 138]

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אבינו מלכנו

Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you:
for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.


הביטו אל־אברהם אביכם ואל־שרה תחוללכם כי־אחד קראתיו ואברכהו וארבהו

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